MANHATTAN — New York City’s Commission on Human Rights said Wednesday it is launching an investigation into a viral video of a white woman in Central Park calling 911, falsely accusing a black man of threatening her.
Recorded by the the victim, the video shows the Monday morning dispute between Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper (no relation), ending with the woman calling police after the avid bird watcher told her to leash her dog, as is regulated in the Ramble area of the park where the incident occurred.
Amy Cooper can be heard in the video saying, “I’m gonna tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” before calling police and reporting just that, despite Christian Cooper standing calmly in silence at a distance.
“At a time when the devastating impacts of racism in black communities have been made so painfully clear—from racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes, to harassment of essential workers on the front lines—it is appalling to see these types of ugly threats directed at one New Yorker by another,” said Sapna V. Raj, deputy commissioner of the Law enforcement Bureau at the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
“Efforts to intimidate black people by threatening to call law enforcement draw on a long, violent and painful history, and they are unacceptable,” Raj added in his statement.
The Commission said they have issued a letter of inquiry to Amy Cooper. “We encourage Ms. Cooper to cooperate with the Commission and meaningfully engage in a process to address the harm that she has caused.”
In a press release, the Commission said that under the NYC Human Rights Law, it is illegal to engage in discriminatory harassment to harm, or threaten to harm, someone based solely on their race, national origin, ethnicity, or any other protected category.
The Commission said it has the authority to fine violators of the law as well as order sensitivity training on the Human Rights Law.
For victims, the Commission can award compensatory damages for these incidents, including emotional distress damages and other benefits.
Since the video went viral Amy Cooper has fired by her employer and voluntarily surrendered custody of her dog to the rescue organization she adopted it from.
Cooper has also since apologized for her actions and has claimed she is not a racist.