This year, May 25 served as a day of reckoning for many Americans remembering the life of George Floyd — murdered by the police a year ago yesterday — and the profound lack of change in American policing in the time since his passing. But it appears that Amy Cooper, also known as “Central Park Karen,” hasn’t learned much from her own experience on May 25, 2020. That morning in the semi-wild Ramble in the iconic New York City park, Cooper called the police on Christian Cooper, a Black man birding in the area, because he asked her to put her to leash her Cocker Spaniel in an area where signs clearly mark dogs must be leashed. Before calling the cops, she told him that “I’m gonna tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” suggesting that she was intentionally weaponizing a system of police brutality against Black Americans to scare a man who called her out for breaking a minor rule.
Cooper, who later apologized and claimed she was “not a racist,” faced numerous repercussions for her actions, including a criminal charge of filing a false police report (that was later dropped) and losing her job at the investment firm Franklin Templeton. Now she wants restitution.
In a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court late on Tuesday, and first reported on by Reuters, Cooper claimed that Franklin Templeton wrongfully fired her as an insurance portfolio manager without conducting an inquiry into the exchange in Central Park. First, the firm suspended Cooper and said it was conducting an investigation. But Cooper claims she was fired the next day without being contacted for such an inquiry. In the lawsuit, she also alleges that the reason Franklin Templeton did not engage in a probe was due to her gender and race. “Franklin Templeton perpetuated and legitimized the story of ‘Karen’ vs. an innocent African American to its perceived advantage, with reckless disregard for the destruction of Plaintiff’s life in the process,” her attorney Matthew Litt wrote.
The firm doesn’t appear to stressed by the development, according to its statement: “We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the Company responded appropriately. We will defend against these baseless claims. Regardless of the result of the lawsuit, she appears not to have learned much from her run-in with Christian Cooper —who has questioned whether or not Amy Cooper’s “life needed to be torn apart.”
In the filing, she claims that he was “an overzealous birdwatcher engaged in Central Park’s ongoing feud between birdwatchers and dog owners.” Claiming discrimination against her and dismissing the clear racial intentions of her threat seems to suggest that she is not ready to admit — after a year of racial reckoning started by the police murdering a Black man — being in the wrong for leveraging the police to threaten a Black man. That she frames the encounter as dog owner vs. birdwatcher also suggests she hasn’t absorbed the lessons of the therapy sessions on racial sensitivity she was ordered by the court to attend — a prosecutor described them as “focused on the ways in which Ms. Cooper could appreciate that racial identities shape our lives but we cannot use them to harm ourselves or others.”