Dog owner racially profiles black man, abuses her own dog
Yet another dishonest 911 call risking the life of a black man
Update on July 6, 2020: Amy Cooper was reunited with her dog. However, she now faces a criminal charge for filing a false report. If convicted on Oct. 14, she could receive a conditional discharge, or be sentenced to community service or counseling rather than jail time.
Update: The Cocker Spaniel, Henry, was returned to Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue Inc., according to the company’s Facebook post. According to a post from her current employer Franklin Templeton, she was also terminated.
In one of the oddest racial profiling 911 calls, a white woman managed to make herself look abusive to her own dog, not look out for the safety of other park pedestrians and boldly lied about a black man “threatening her” — on film. Unfortunately, I could dedicate an entire beat to writing Medium posts on racial profiling. A few can be found in “I Do See Color,” but there are not enough hours in the day (or 100-part Ava DuVernay series) to cover them all.
But this entire filmed conflict between Amy Cooper, a dog owner, and Christian Cooper, a Central Park pedestrian and bird watcher, brings to mind an older post I wrote months ago about off-leash dogs. While dog owners tend to be the kind of people who run up on other people’s dogs and don’t fear these four-legged animals, pedestrians have a legitimate right to ask you to leash your dog. In public spaces where that dog can take off running at a moment’s notice — trained or not — others have the right to feel safe in that environment, too.
However, this video is bizarre in a different way outside of dog owners being defensive about how their dogs would never bite. This dog owner in the Ramble location of the New York park is so hysterical about the black man asking her to leash her dog, and then filming her, that she starts dragging her own dog by the collar until the dog yelps. In her own 911 call, the dog can be heard (and seen) trying to get away from her, but somehow she managed to say the guy is threatening her and her dog. The way she’s handling her dog is traumatic, not him pressing “Record.”
As much as I’ve been guilty of pulling a dog a few feet for a puppy protest, this is something else entirely. In this case, the dog could’ve very voluntarily walked with her. Instead, the 911 calls have gotten so hysterical that even dogs are getting dragged into the foolishness. While the blatant lie about a black man trying to attack her is jarring enough (again, in Central Park of all places)— along with the dog being dragged/choked during the call — what’s even more peculiar is Twitter users asking questions like: “why is he filming her? what right does he have to do that? it’s a strange example, tho it shows how racism appears in moments of fear, definitely taught bullshit. but he needs to learn he can’t control people by filming them. odd”
Dog owners, any time you have your dog off the leash and put someone else at risk, don’t be surprised by the backlash. (Depending on the state you live in, one-party consent laws for recording on public property can be debated in court.) According to Central Park’s website, “From 6 a.m. until 9 a.m., and from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m., dogs in Central Park can be off-leash in any area that is not off-limits to dogs during other times of the day.” However, The Ramble is among 14 other locations that requires dogs to always be leashed.
If there are signs up to leash your dog in a public place and you still refuse to do it, the least you could do is just leave that area and move to another one. But calling the police when you’re wrong and then frantically lying is beyond comprehension. Hysteria like this and incidents like this are what can lead your dog to connect certain people with fear. Then you wonder why your dog is racist — like you. If you watch a video like this — of a white woman practically choking her dog and lying to the police about being attacked by a black man — and your biggest concern is him filming on public property, my guess is you missed the whole point of what 911 is for. The real emergency ended up being the dog owner, not the unleashed dog.
Can somebody call Animal Control on her? And can somebody check on him to make sure he’s not too terrified to go back into that park and risk having the police called on him again — for pointing out a clear park rule?