The gay Black man targeted by a ‘Central Park Karen’ doesn’t know if her ‘racist actions’ make her a racist person
The words “Amy Cooper” have, within days, become a shorthand to denote a certain kind of white privilege — one that has, on so many occasions, placed Black lives in danger.
Monday morning (May 25) saw two New Yorkers disagree over an unleashed dog. Christian Cooper, a gay Black man, had calmly requested that Amy Cooper, a white woman, put her dog on a leash as per Central Park requirements.
The exchange took an ugly turn when Amy phoned the police to report she was being threatened by “an African-American man”.
Christian filmed the call, watching as Amy, her voice tinny with hysteria, lied to law enforcement about him.
Footage of the altercation went viral, leading to Amy losing her job and her dog as countless people accused her of racism – but Christian himself has said he remains unsure about branding her a racist.
Christian Cooper: ‘Where Amy Cooper went to was a racist place.’
“I can’t see how [Amy Cooper losing her job] addresses the underlying issues,” he told the New York Daily News on Tuesday (May 27), speaking after Amy was fired from her role as head of insurance investment solutions at Franklin Templeton.
“I think it’s important to move beyond this instance and this one individual.
“Too much focus has been put on her when it really is about the underlying issues that have plagued this city and this country for centuries – racial issues.”
Christian, a former Marvel Comics editor, continued: “Where she went was a racist place. That action was racist.
“Does that make her a racist? I can’t answer that. Only she can with what she does going forward.
“Maybe she was trying to gain an advantage. She went there, and she needs to reflect on what she did.”
‘Central Park Karen’ video highlights the everyday racism levelled at Black people.
What started as two locals out in Central Park on a mild spring day at 8:10am arguing over an unleashed dog running amuck has astonished many, but is all too familiar to the Black community who have historically been targeted with false, hysterical accusations.
Christian Cooper, an avid birdwatcher, asked Amy Cooper, a white woman, to leash her dog as the rules required in the Ramble, a protected nature reserve popular with birdwatchers.
As the pair squabbled, Christian planned to offer the dog treats to encourage Amy to leash the dog to stop it from running over to him, according to a Facebook post in which he documented his version of their exchange.
“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,” he told her, according to the post before pulling out the treats.
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Christian pulled his phone out to capture Amy, who was by then clutching her cocker spaniel by the collar with its front legs off the ground, thrashing. Amy spiralled around Christian, who asked her to keep her distance.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” she said to him while dialling on her phone, still gripping her dog’s collar, and repeated twice to the operator: “African-American.”
“I am being threatened by a man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately!” she shouted before hanging up. Christian thanked her and left.
Police responded to the call. No summons were issued or arrests made.
After Christian’s sister, Melody Cooper, uploaded the footage to Facebook, Amy was hastily identified by social media users and drew intense condemnation from the clip’s four million viewers.
Within hours, Amy had given up her dog to Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, been fired from her job “humbly and fully” apologised for her actions.