Outrage over latest twist in 'Central Park Karen' case

AFP
·3-min read

Charges against a white woman who called the police on a Black birdwatcher in New York's Central Park were dropped on Tuesday (local time) after she completed a program on racial bias, prosecutors said.

Amy Cooper, 41, gained infamy last May when she appeared in a video calling police to falsely claim she was being threatened by an African-American man.

The clip posted on Twitter was filmed by the man, Christian Cooper (no relation), who said he had asked the woman to leash her dog.

Commentators accused her of putting Mr Cooper's life in danger by trying to manipulate a police system that is regularly accused of brutality against members of the Black community.

Amy Cooper on the phone to police as she falsely reported she was being threatened by an African-American man. She is also seen nearly choking her dog with its lead.
Amy Cooper appeared in a video calling police to falsely claim she was being threatened by an African-American man. Source: Facebook

Ms Cooper had risked one year in prison if convicted of filing a false police report.

Instead, she underwent five sessions of therapy about how "racial identities shape our lives", prosecutor Joan Illuzzi told a judge, according to an account provided by the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

A therapist reported "it was a moving experience and that Ms Cooper learned a lot in their sessions together", Ms Illuzzi said, adding prosecutors were now moving to dismiss the charges.

The May incident prompted social media outrage, with users calling Ms Cooper a "Karen" – a term popular online to describe an entitled white woman.

Christian Cooper pictured in Facebook photo.
The clip posted on Twitter was filmed by the man, Christian Cooper (no relation), who said he had asked the woman to leash her dog. Source: Facebook

"There is an African-American man, I'm in Central Park. He's recording me and threatening me and threatening my dog," she told the police operator.

According to the complaint, she then called the police back to say the man had "tried to assault her".

Video of the call came around the same time footage went viral of a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of Black man George Floyd before his death.

Ms Cooper was quickly fired from her job at Franklin Templeton, with the investment management company saying it did not tolerate "racism of any kind".

Man in video 'outraged'

Following news that prosecutors were looking to dismiss the charges, Mr Cooper spoke out.

"I am far more outraged by the US Congress, which continues to deny the mostly Black and brown people of the District of Columbia statehood and the representation every American deserves, than by anything Amy Cooper did," he wrote to Facebook.

"That gross racial injustice could be fixed by Congress now, today, and that’s what people should be focused on—not last year’s events in Central Park."

His sister, Melody Cooper, expressed frustration at the news.

"A flock of Karens is a privilege," she wrote on Twitter.

"5 classes in bias training. Five. To undo a lifetime of unchecked bias," Melody Cooper continued in a series of later tweets.

"This kind of leniency is EXACTLY why demanding prosecution to the full extent of the law and in no uncertain terms is absolutely necessary.

"The rules bend differently, depending on who you are. Our only hope of fairness, is to throw the book when it's our turn."

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