my Cooper is a white New York woman who was recorded in a viral video calling police on a black man who asked her to leash her dog in the Ramble section of Central Park on Memorial Day. The incident on Monday, May 25, quickly spread on social media. The video was posted by the man she called 911 on, Christian Cooper, and Cooper’s sister, Melody Cooper. The video has been viewed more than 5 million times as of Monday night.
Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper are not related.
The video shows Amy Cooper, 41, telling Christian Cooper she would be calling the police on him and saying she would tell dispatchers he was threatening her and her dog. The video does not show Christian Cooper making any threats but does show him standing away from Amy Cooper and encouraging her to call the police, while also asking her to stay away from him. Christian Cooper said he started recording the incident when she refused to put a leash on her dog and when she moved toward him.
The video also shows Amy Cooper’s dog appearing to choke and struggle against his collar while Cooper made a 911 call. No one was arrested, and it is not clear if police are planning to investigate the incident further. Amy Cooper apologized in a statement to NBC New York, saying she overreacted but felt threatened. She told CNN, “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.” She told CNN her “entire life is being destroyed right now.”
Christian Cooper, 57, is a former Marvel Comics editor and writer who now works as the senior biomedical editor at Health Science Communications. Christian Cooper is a birder and says he often watches birds in Central Park, which is what he said he was doing before the Memorial Day encounter with the other Cooper. The video’s spread was helped by a tweet by his sister, Melody, a science fiction and horror writer who has worked at CW and HBO.
Amy Cooper, who was initially identified by her dog walkers and did not respond to a request for comment from Heavy, works at Franklin Templeton Investments, a multi-billion-dollar asset management firm. The company issued a statement Monday night saying, “We take these matters very seriously and we do not condone racism of any kind. While we are in the process of investigating the situation, the employee involved has been put on administrative leave.”
On Tuesday, the company provided an update on Twitter, saying, “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.”
The dog in the video, a cocker spaniel named Henry, has been surrendered to the dog rescue group where Amy Cooper adopted him from two years ago. Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue Inc. wrote on Facebook Monday night:
Thank you to the concerned public for reaching out to us about a video involving a dog that was adopted from our rescue a few years ago. As of this evening, the owner has voluntarily surrendered the dog in question to our rescue while this matter is being addressed. Our mission remains the health and safety of our rescued dogs. The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health. We will not be responding to any further inquiries about the situation, either publicly or privately. Thank you for your understanding.
Melody Cooper wrote on Twitter, “My brother & I are so grateful for your concern! He is fine and left to continue birding after she leashed the dog, as he politely requested. I wanted folks to know what happened to make sure it never happens again from her. All she had to do was put her poor dog on the leash.”
Here’s what you need to know about Amy Cooper and the video of the Central Park incident:
1. Amy Cooper Says to Christian Cooper in the Video, ‘I’m Going to Tell Them There’s an African American Man Threatening My Life’
On Facebook, Christian Cooper wrote, “Central Park this morning: This woman’s dog is tearing through the plantings in the Ramble.” He described the conversation he says occurred before he began recording with his cell phone:
ME: Ma’am, dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times. The sign is right there.
HER: The dog runs are closed. He needs his exercise.
ME: All you have to do is take him to the other side of the drive, outside the Ramble, and you can let him run off leash all you want.
HER: It’s too dangerous.
ME: 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.
HER: What’s that?
ME (to the dog): Come here, puppy!
HER: He won’t come to you.
ME: We’ll see about that…
Christian Cooper said he was planning to offer the dog treats. He told NBC New York, “If the habitat is destroyed we won’t be able to go there to see the birds, to enjoy the plantings. The only way they can keep the dog from eating the treat is to put it on a leash. At some point, she decided I’m gonna play the race card, I guess.”
Christian Cooper wrote, “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.” He said she then yelled at him, “don’t you touch my dog.” Christian Cooper said, “That’s when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn…”
In the video, the bird watcher, Cooper, can be seen standing away from Amy Cooper as he tells her to put her leash on the dog. She then picks up her dog by the collar and begins walking toward him, so he tells her, “please don’t come close to me,” as she tells him to stop recording. “Sir, I’m asking you to stop recording me,” Amy Cooper says, before extending her arm and dragging her dog along as she moves closer to Cooper. “Please take your phone off,” the woman says, as Christian Cooper again tells her not to come closer.
Amy Cooper, while holding her dog by the collar, then pulls out her phone and says, “then I’m taking a picture and calling the cops.” Cooper tells her, “please call the cops,” and she responds, “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” Christian Cooper responds, “please tell them anything you’d like.”
Amy Cooper backs up and lowers her face mask as she calls 911, the video shows. She tells the dispatcher, “I’m in the Ramble and there’s an African American man in a bicycle helmet. He’s recording me and threatening me and my dog.” As she is speaking to the dispatcher, her dog starts pulling at his collar and trying to get free, appearing to struggle to breathe as Amy Cooper focuses on the call. She repeats, “There’s an African American man. I’m in Central Park, he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog.” Her dog then tumbles to the ground and yelps before panting heavily.
Amy Cooper wraps up the 911 call by yelling, “I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble. Please send the cops immediately. I’m in Central Park in the Ramble, I don’t know.” Amy Cooper then manages to leash her dog, and the video ends with Cooper saying to her, “thank you.”
Amy Cooper told NBC New York she overreacted during the incident, but said she felt threatened and did not know what was in the dog treats. “I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family,” she told NBC New York. “It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologize 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 told CNN she didn’t understand what Christian Cooper meant when he told her about the treats, “I didn’t know what that meant. When you’re alone in a wooded area, that’s absolutely terrifying right?”