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Amy Cooper, the white woman who was recorded on Memorial Day calling the police to falsely claim that a Black bird-watcher was threatening her in Central Park, will face charges for making a false report, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement on Monday.
Christian Cooper, an avid and well-known birder in the park, had recorded a video of his disturbing encounter with Ms. Cooper (no relation), whom he approached after noticing that she had taken her dog off of its leash in the Ramble, an area of the park where dogs are required to remain leashed at all times. Mr. Cooper reminded her of the rules and asked her to leash her dog, then tried to give the dog a treat when she refused — but Ms. Cooper became hysterical and threatened to call the police, warning him that “I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.” She then followed through and called 911.
“I’m in the Ramble, there is a man, African-American, he has a bicycle helmet and he is recording me and threatening me and my dog,” she told the dispatcher. “I am being threatened by a man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately!”
The video, which was shared by Mr. Cooper’s sister on Twitter, quickly went viral and led to renewed attention on the frequency with which white people falsely accuse Black people of crimes — often with horrifying consequences — or weaponize the threat to do so.
As a result of the incident, Ms. Cooper was fired from her job and temporarily gave up her dog to the rescue organization she had adopted it from. She also issued a public apology, insisting she was not a racist but had “reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions.” Mr. Cooper accepted her apology, but emphasized that, “It’s not really about her and her poor judgment in a snap second. It’s about the underlying current of racism and racial perceptions that’s been going on for centuries and that permeates this city and this country that she tapped into.”
“Today our office initiated a prosecution of Amy Cooper for falsely reporting an incident in the third degree,” Vance said on Monday, adding that he “would like to encourage anyone who has been the target of false reporting to contact our office. We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable.”
Ms. Cooper is scheduled to be arraigned on October 14. If she is convicted, the misdemeanor false-report charge could result in up to a year in jail, but she could also be sentenced to community service or counseling instead of prison.