- More than 22 million people have watched a video of Amy Cooper, a white woman, calling 911 and alleging that there was an "African-American man threatening" her.
- Christian Cooper, who is black and enjoys bird watching, had asked Amy Cooper to put her dog on its leash while they were in the Ramble in Central Park in Manhattan.
- "When Chris began offering treats to my dog and confronted me in an area where there was no one else nearby and said, 'You're not going to like what I'm going to do next,' I assumed we were being threatened," Amy Cooper said in a statement, "when all he had intended to do was record our encounter on his phone."
- The Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. has since announced that the woman has "voluntarily surrendered" her dog, confirming that "he is safe and in good health."
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
The white woman who called the police after a black bird-watcher asked her to put her pet on a leash in New York's Central Park gained infamy not only for accusing the man of threatening her life, but also appearing to choke her dog.
Now, she's given it up.
Melody Cooper shared a video of the Central Park interaction on Twitter Monday, where it's been viewed over 22.8 million times as of Tuesday morning. The footage was filmed by Melody's brother, Christian Cooper, who requested the woman "put her dog on the leash" in a protected area of the park.
Melody Cooper told Insider that her brother "has been working along with other birders in Central Park to get dog walkers to keep their dogs on the leash in the Ramble part of Central Park." The rule is part of the city's legal code.
Instead of leashing her dog, Amy Cooper, who is unrelated to Melody and Christian, called 911.
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NYâ€™s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
In the hours after Amy Cooper went viral, the Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. shared on Facebook that she has "voluntarily surrendered" her pet to the organisation.
The dog was adopted from the animal rescue a few years back and is now back in its care where "he is safe and in good health," the group wrote.
Christian Cooper shared on Facebook that the dog was "tearing through the plantings in the Ramble," which prompted him to point out signs to Amy Cooper that said dogs must be leashed in that part of the park at all times. However, she defended the move, saying the animal "needs his exercise" and said its "too dangerous" to go outside that part of the park.
"Look, if you're going to do what you want, I'm going to do what I want, but you're not going to like it," Christian Cooper told her, before calling out, "Come here, puppy!"
He went on to explain: "I pull out the dog treats I carry for just for such intransigence. I didn't even get a chance to toss any treats to the pooch before Karen scrambled to grab the dog." Amy Cooper reacted by saying, "DON'T YOU TOUCH MY DOG!!!!!" he wrote.
"That's when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn," Christian Cooper said.
Amy Cooper has since apologised for the incident.
She issued a statement via Cision PR Newswire on Tuesday evening, saying that she "reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions" even though she was in the wrong with her dog being off his leash.
"When Chris began offering treats to my dog and confronted me in an area where there was no one else nearby and said, 'You're not going to like what I'm going to do next,' I assumed we were being threatened when all he had intended to do was record our encounter on his phone," she wrote.
Acknowledging the pain that "misassumptions and insensitive statements about race cause," she added, "I hope that a few mortifying seconds in a lifetime of forty years will not define me in his eyes and that he will accept my sincere apology."
Earlier in the day, Amy Cooper also told NBC New York: "I sincerely and humbly apologise to everyone, especially to that man, his family. It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologise to everyone who's seen that video, everyone that's been offended … everyone who thinks of me in a lower light and I understand why they do."
She also told CNN: "I'm not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way."
Still, Amy Cooper's employer, the investment management company Franklin Templeton, first put her on administrative leave and then fired her, denouncing her racially-charged attack.
Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.— Franklin Templeton (@FTI_US) May 26, 2020
On Tuesday, Michael Fischer, president of the Central Park Civic Association, issued a statement, censuring Amy Cooper and calling for her to be banned from Central Park.
"This disgusting display of intolerance is unacceptable and should never, ever be accepted in the City's public domain like Central Park," Fischer wrote. "The Central Park Civic Association condemns this behaviour and is calling on Mayor de Blasio to impose a lifetime ban on this lady for her deliberate, racial misleading of law enforcement and violating behavioural guidelines set so that all can enjoy our city's most famous park."
The National Audubon Society also condemned Amy Cooper's behaviour. The group's New York City chapter counts Christian Cooper among its board members.
"Black Americans often face terrible daily dangers in outdoor spaces, where they are subjected to unwarranted suspicion, confrontation, and violence," said Rebeccah Sanders, the group's senior vice president for state programs. "The outdoors - and the joy of birds - should be safe and welcoming for all people. That's the reality Audubon and our partners are working hard to achieve."
This article has been updated.
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