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Woman Who Called Cops on Black Bird Watcher Charged in New York

July 6, 2020, 9:38 PM

The woman who called the police on a Black man watching birds in New York’s Central Park in May was charged with falsely reporting an incident, a misdemeanor.

Amy Cooper, who is White, had accused the bird watcher, Christian Cooper, of threatening to attack her after he asked her to keep her dog on a leash. The May 25 encounter was captured on video and posted to Facebook, where it went viral.

She was charged Monday by Manhattan’s district attorney and is scheduled to appear for an arraignment Oct. 14. She faces as long as a year in jail, three years of probation or a $1,000 fine, according to sentencing guidelines.

On the video, Amy Cooper is seen calling the police on her mobile phone saying “there is an African American man, I am in Central Park. He is recording me, and threatening myself and my dog.”

The next day, Cooper was fired from her job as head of insurance investment at Franklin Templeton. Chief Executive Officer Jenny Johnson said the firm had zero tolerance for racism and that the facts in Cooper’s case were “undisputed.”

Amy Cooper later apologized for the call, claiming she is not racist. Robert Barnes, her attorney, said in a tweet Monday that Cooper “will be found not guilty of this misdemeanor charge. More to be said later.”

The video of Cooper and the bird watcher caught widespread attention as an example of Black people being falsely accused of crimes by White people. The encounter occurred the same day George Floyd was killed while being arrested in Minnesota, an incident that sparked protests across the country about excessive force by police.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Clare Roth in Kansas City at croth55@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net

Steve Stroth, Anthony Lin

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.