Christian Cooper, the African-American bird watcher who was racially profiled by a woman in New York City, has opened up about the experience–and the consequences–of the incident.
Cooper, a gay man who works as a comic book writer, found himself at the center of drama following an incident in New York’s Central Park on May 25. Cooper had gone to a specific area of the park called The Ramble known as a bird habitat. Cooper is an avid bird watcher.
While there, he encountered Amy Cooper (no relation), an investment banker walking her dog. She had her dog off-leash, violating the rules for The Ramble. Christian asked Amy to put her dog on a leash, so as not to interfere with the birds nesting in the area. She refused. Christian began filming her, sending Amy into a frenzy. She dialed 9-1-1 to say “an African-American man is threatening me and my dog.” Following the incident, Christian Cooper’s sister Melody posted the clip to Twitter, where it became a viral sensation.
In the aftermath of the incident, Amy Cooper had her dog reclaimed by a rescue organization. Franklin Templeton, her employer, also terminated her.
Now, in an interview with Gay USA, Christian Cooper has opened up about the incident, and the consequences for Amy Cooper.
“I decided to videotape her intransigent behavior,” Cooper says. “Up until then it was conflict between a bird watcher and a dog walker with their dog off-leash.”
Cooper went on to explain the problem of park-goers walking their dogs off-leash, and that he began to video record Amy Cooper’s actions to show authorities. During her call to 9-1-1, Amy Cooper yanked her dog about by the collar before finally putting him on a leash. Cooper then terminated the recording.
When it comes to the blowback experienced by Amy Cooper for her actions, Christian has mixed feelings.
“Her life went from normal to collapsed in about 60 seconds,” Christian observed. “For a lapse of judgment, a serious lapse of judgment, one that turned racist. I have very mixed feelings about the consequences for her, whether it’s proportional. I imagine she was trying to get a leg up in the confrontation… But she went to a racist place.”
At the time of this writing, Melody Cooper’s initial tweet of the video has more than 200,000 retweets and half a million likes.
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’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