Amy Cooper is a white New York woman who was recorded in a viral video calling police on a black man who asked her to leash her dog in the Ramble section of Central Park on Memorial Day. The incident on Monday, May 25, quickly spread on social media. The video was posted by the man she called 911 on, Christian Cooper, and Cooper’s sister, Melody Cooper. The video has been viewed more than 5 million times as of Monday night.
Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper are not related.
The video shows Amy Cooper, 41, telling Christian Cooper she would be calling the police on him and saying she would tell dispatchers he was threatening her and her dog. The video does not show Christian Cooper making any threats but does show him standing away from Amy Cooper and encouraging her to call the police, while also asking her to stay away from him. Christian Cooper said he started recording the incident when she refused to put a leash on her dog and when she moved toward him.
The video also shows Amy Cooper’s dog appearing to choke and struggle against his collar while Cooper made a 911 call. No one was arrested, and it is not clear if police are planning to investigate the incident further. Amy Cooper apologized in a statement to NBC New York, saying she overreacted but felt threatened. She told CNN, “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.” She told CNN her “entire life is being destroyed right now.”
Christian Cooper, 57, is a former Marvel Comics editor and writer who now works as the senior biomedical editor at Health Science Communications. Christian Cooper is a birder and says he often watches birds in Central Park, which is what he said he was doing before the Memorial Day encounter with the other Cooper. The video’s spread was helped by a tweet by his sister, Melody, a science fiction and horror writer who has worked at CW and HBO.
Amy Cooper, who was initially identified by her dog walkers and did not respond to a request for comment from Heavy, works at Franklin Templeton Investments, a multi-billion-dollar asset management firm. The company issued a statement Monday night saying, “We take these matters very seriously and we do not condone racism of any kind. While we are in the process of investigating the situation, the employee involved has been put on administrative leave.”
On Tuesday, the company provided an update on Twitter, saying, “Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.”
The dog in the video, a cocker spaniel named Henry, has been surrendered to the dog rescue group where Amy Cooper adopted him from two years ago. Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue Inc. wrote on Facebook Monday night:
Thank you to the concerned public for reaching out to us about a video involving a dog that was adopted from our rescue a few years ago. As of this evening, the owner has voluntarily surrendered the dog in question to our rescue while this matter is being addressed. Our mission remains the health and safety of our rescued dogs. The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health. We will not be responding to any further inquiries about the situation, either publicly or privately. Thank you for your understanding.
Melody Cooper wrote on Twitter, “My brother & I are so grateful for your concern! He is fine and left to continue birding after she leashed the dog, as he politely requested. I wanted folks to know what happened to make sure it never happens again from her. All she had to do was put her poor dog on the leash.”
Here’s what you need to know about Amy Cooper and the video of the Central Park incident:
1. Amy Cooper Says to Christian Cooper in the Video, ‘I’m Going to Tell Them There’s an African American Man Threatening My Life’
On Facebook, Christian Cooper wrote, “Central Park this morning: This woman’s dog is tearing through the plantings in the Ramble.” He described the conversation he says occurred before he began recording with his cell phone:
ME: Ma’am, dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times. The sign is right there.
HER: The dog runs are closed. He needs his exercise.
ME: All you have to do is take him to the other side of the drive, outside the Ramble, and you can let him run off leash all you want.
HER: It’s too dangerous.
ME: Look, if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it.
HER: What’s that?
ME (to the dog): Come here, puppy!
HER: He won’t come to you.
ME: We’ll see about that…
Christian Cooper said he was planning to offer the dog treats. He told NBC New York, “If the habitat is destroyed we won’t be able to go there to see the birds, to enjoy the plantings. The only way they can keep the dog from eating the treat is to put it on a leash. At some point, she decided I’m gonna play the race card, I guess.”
Christian Cooper wrote, “I pull out the dog treats I carry for just for such intransigence. I didn’t even get a chance to toss any treats to the pooch before Karen scrambled to grab the dog.” He said she then yelled at him, “don’t you touch my dog.” Christian Cooper said, “That’s when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn…”
In the video, the bird watcher, Cooper, can be seen standing away from Amy Cooper as he tells her to put her leash on the dog. She then picks up her dog by the collar and begins walking toward him, so he tells her, “please don’t come close to me,” as she tells him to stop recording. “Sir, I’m asking you to stop recording me,” Amy Cooper says, before extending her arm and dragging her dog along as she moves closer to Cooper. “Please take your phone off,” the woman says, as Christian Cooper again tells her not to come closer.
Amy Cooper, while holding her dog by the collar, then pulls out her phone and says, “then I’m taking a picture and calling the cops.” Cooper tells her, “please call the cops,” and she responds, “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” Christian Cooper responds, “please tell them anything you’d like.”
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm
— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
Amy Cooper backs up and lowers her face mask as she calls 911, the video shows. She tells the dispatcher, “I’m in the Ramble and there’s an African American man in a bicycle helmet. He’s recording me and threatening me and my dog.” As she is speaking to the dispatcher, her dog starts pulling at his collar and trying to get free, appearing to struggle to breathe as Amy Cooper focuses on the call. She repeats, “There’s an African American man. I’m in Central Park, he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog.” Her dog then tumbles to the ground and yelps before panting heavily.
Amy Cooper wraps up the 911 call by yelling, “I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble. Please send the cops immediately. I’m in Central Park in the Ramble, I don’t know.” Amy Cooper then manages to leash her dog, and the video ends with Cooper saying to her, “thank you.”
Amy Cooper told NBC New York she overreacted during the incident, but said she felt threatened and did not know what was in the dog treats. “I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family,” she told NBC New York. “It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologize to everyone who’s seen that video, everyone that’s been offended … everyone who thinks of me in a lower light and I understand why they do.”
She told CNN she didn’t understand what Christian Cooper meant when he told her about the treats, “I didn’t know what that meant. When you’re alone in a wooded area, that’s absolutely terrifying right?”
2. Police Responded to the Scene, but Both Amy Cooper & Christian Cooper Were Gone When Officers Arrived, So No Report Was Taken, the NYPD Says
Amy Cooper has been dubbed “Central Park Karen” by some on social media. Police sources told TMZ the incident occurred about 8 a.m. Monday. But both Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper were gone when officers arrived at Central Park. The police sources told TMZ the officers were dispatched to a “possible assault.” No one was arrested and no tickets or warnings were issued because no one was there, TMZ reports.
ABC 7 New York’s Morena Basteiro tweeted a statement from the NYPD, “Call came in for a dispute, inside of the Central Park’s Ramble, around 8 a.m. this morning. Officers arrived and neither party was on scene. Thus, no report was filed and no arrests were made. No one has come forward to police since.”
New York City Councilman Mark Levine tweeted, “Filling a false police report is a crime. Being racist is reprehensible. There needs to be accountability for this. Disgusting.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter on Tuesday, “The video out of Central Park is racism, plain and simple. She called the police BECAUSE he was a Black man. Even though she was the one breaking the rules. She decided he was the criminal and we know why. This kind of hatred has no place in our city.”
Christian Cooper wrote on Facebook, “Once she put the dog on the leash, I birded my way out of the park as normal (I was done for the day and on my way out when I encountered Karen).” He added, “I’m fine… At this point, I’m getting used to this. Though the full-on racist slant was new.”
Cooper also wrote, “imagine the police responded at some point, but once she put her dog on the leash, I went back to birding (which I was wrapping up and heading out anyway). We’ll see if there’s any blowback the next time I’m in the park, though I doubt it. If there is, I’ve got the video. … Also hopefully the police presence in the Ramble will increase (there is zero right now), and that will put further pressure on the irresponsible dog owners.”
Christian Cooper is a Harvard University graduate who worked at Marvel Comics from 1990 to 1999 as an associate editor, editing “Blade: The Vampire Hunter” and, briefly, “The Punisher,” and creating and writing “Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins” and “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy,” according to his LinkedIn profile.
Christian Cooper’s father, Francis Hedgeman Cooper, was a longtime science teacher on Long Island and civil rights and community activist in New York who died in 2019, according to Newsday. He led the organization Congress of Racial Equality on Long Island in the 1960s and pushed for equality until the end of his life.
Christian Cooper said after his father’s death, “He had an inability to sit still when he perceived something was wrong. He passed that on to his kids as well — you’re not a Cooper until you’ve been arrested at a protest demonstration. The idea he passed on to us is if you see something that’s wrong, it’s your personal responsibility to do something about it.”
A family friend, Debra Mulé , told Newsday about Cooper’s father, “He brought his recording camera to public meetings to keep people honest. He was always someone who would speak out for things he believed to be right and he didn’t care what kind of a scene he caused or what feathers he ruffled — he was going to speak out.”
3. Amy Cooper, Who Graduated From the University of Waterloo & the University of Chicago, Worked as a VP & Head of Investment Solutions at Franklin Templeton in New York
Amy Cooper worked as a vice president and head of investment solutions at Franklin Templeton Investments in New York City, according to her now-deleted LinkedIn profile, before she was fired. She had worked there since 2015 and has also been a fixed income portfolio manager.
According to her profile, “Amy M. Cooper leads the insurance portfolio management and strategy business at Franklin Templeton. She has dedicated her career to delivering and executing investment solutions for insurance and pension companies globally. … She is a recognized industry leader in insurance accounting and regulatory issues, asset liability management and strategic asset allocation. She has worked in a variety of insurance focused roles.”
Amy Marie Cooper, a native of Canada, according to her Instagram profile, studied at the University of Waterloo in Ontario from 1998 to 2003, graduating with a degree in actuarial science. She also completed her master’s in business administration in analytical finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2009. Before working at Franklin Templeton, Amy Cooper worked at AIG, Citi, Lehman Brothers and Willis Towers Watson.
Amy Cooper was first identified by two people who walked her dog on the Upper West Side of New York City. Kyle Stover tweeted Monday evening, “So imagine my surprise when I open an article about a woman being racist in Central Park while walking her dog off leash and I realize I used to walk her dog regularly. Oh boy.”
Stover added, “If you’re interested, I used to walk this dog for the woman in the video. Her name’s Amy Cooper and the poor pup’s name is Henry. While I can’t speak for her horrendous views, she was typically a much better dog owner than she showed here.”
Another dog walker, Lindsey Cork, who worked at the same company as Stover, tweeted she identified Cooper because, ” I don’t have tolerance for racists or abusers in general glad to help.” She said, “We barely interacted aside from texts about her dog. She always seemed weird but I had no idea she was racist or like this.”
4. Amy Cooper Adopted Her Rescue Cocker Spaniel, Henry, in March 2018 & Started an Instagram for Him That Had Over 6,000 Followers Before She Made It Private
Amy Cooper’s dog is a cocker spaniel named Henry. According to a Facebook post by Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc., Amy Cooper adopted the dog in March 2018 after her previous cocker spaniel, Ollie, died. The New York-based dog rescued called Cooper a “dedicated foster,” and wrote, “Of course she has been heartbroken. We congratulate Amy on her adoption of Henry and wish them a lifetime of happiness together. May his puppy love help to mend her broken heart.”
The dog rescue also posted about Cooper and her cocker spaniel in August 2019:
We just can’t get enough of Henry! This very sweet boy captured our hearts the very first day we rescued him. Sadly, he was attacked by another dog on his walk last week. Poor Henry, he miraculously escaped with no major injuries but he was badly traumatized. His mom on the other hand, defending her baby, had to get 10 stitches and a rabies shot. Lesson learned, you don’t have to stop and say hello to other people walking their dog. You never know, even if you’re told the other dog in your path is friendly, anything can happen. Sending healing thoughts and well wishes to Henry and his loving mom, Amy!
Just days before the Central Park incident, on May 16, Cooper and the dog rescue posted about Henry and how she had saved him from nearly choking. The dog rescue wrote on Instagram, “Henry’s mom Amy was on their walk when Henry grabbed something on the street and nearly choked. Amy was lucky enough to know CPR and be able to save him. He is 100% perfect. … All pet owners need to learn canine CPR and first aid. It is only 20-30 seconds from a cocker spaniel choking to death.”
Amy Cooper wrote on Henry’s page about the choking scare:
Today my mommy wants to tell the world how thankful she is to have me. Last night, I gobbled something and choked. I was unable to breathe. I laid on my side and my tongue turned blue. My mom was fast to act and used infant CPR to remove the object and save my life. We have since learned that a pupper can choke in 20 seconds or less. Many places teach canine CPR. If you are not familiar with the techniques my mommy is asking while we all have a little more time to please learn. She prays you will never need it like we did last night.
Amy Cooper also posted about other injuries Henry suffered, including a ripped toenail and when Henry was attacked by another dog.
— Sooty (@Bipcotz) May 25, 2020
Amy Cooper had an Instagram for her dog, @Oh_Henry_Spaniel, with more than 6,000 followers.
Someone who used to walk her dog ID’ed her on Twitter as Amy Cooper and her dog’s name is Henry.
The dog has his own Instagram, oh_henry_spaniel, which she reportedly has deleted posts and has now made private. pic.twitter.com/aiYgpcwCRy
— Resist Programming 🛰 (@RzstProgramming) May 25, 2020
After the Central Park incident, several concerned social media users messaged Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc., and some of its social media posts about her have been deleted. Before deleting the post about Henry choking, the dog rescue wrote, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are aware of this situation and are currently looking into this matter.”
5. Amy Cooper Deleted Her Social Media Accounts & Franklin Templeton’s Website Crashed Because of the Amount of Attention the Story Is Receiving
Amy Cooper deleted her personal Instagram profile after making it private and also changed the name of her dog’s page and made that private. Her LinkedIn profile was also taken down Monday evening as scrutiny on her intensified.
In addition to her pages being down, Franklin Templeton’s website crashed Monday night.
— PJamma (@mspammajamma) May 26, 2020
Amy Cooper told NBC New York Monday night, “When I think about the police, I’m such a blessed person. I’ve come to realize especially today that I think of [the police] as a protection agency, and unfortunately, this has caused me to realize that there are so many people in this country that don’t have that luxury.”
She told CNN she meant no harm to Christian Cooper or the African-American community. Amy Cooper told the news network, “I think I was just scared. When you’re alone in the Ramble, you don’t know what’s happening. It’s not excusable, it’s not defensible.”
Christian Cooper told CNN, “I videotaped it because I thought it was important to document things. Unfortunately we live in an era with things like Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are seen as targets. This woman thought she could exploit that to her advantage, and I wasn’t having it.”
He was asked by CNN if he would accept the other Cooper’s apology, and he said, “”if it’s genuine and if she plans on keeping her dog on a leash in the Ramble going forward, then we have no issues with each other.”
Several people commented on Christian Cooper’s video saying that the woman was being racist and endangering his life by calling the police and saying he was threatening her. Commenters also said she should be investigated for animal abuse because of the way the dog was being treated in the video.
Christian Cooper’s sister, Melody Cooper, wrote, “I know part of you (the Dad part) enjoys setting these idiot Karen’s straight, but be careful. I agree that she should be reported for calling in a false report. I LOVE oh she was so concerned about her dog that she started choking it as she called the police.”
Asked if her brother was doing OK, Melody Cooper wrote on Twitter, “He’s fine, thankfully. No I told him to be careful! As soon as she leashed the dog, he said thank you stopped filming and went about his business. This kind of entitlement dog walking happens weekly in the Ramble.”
Richard Spedale wrote, “What a heinous woman. Racism driven by white privilege (or is it the other way around?). Guess they go hand in hand. Pathetic. I am relieved you weren’t physically injured, despite the outcome she was clearly hoping her white privilege would result in. Sadly, I can’t say the same for her poor dog. The agency that should have been called is the ASPCA.”
Tanya Noel wrote, “And this is how black men are killed. The cops would have shown up guns blazing in ‘defense’ of the poor white lady ‘in (fear) for her life’ after she was the one to approach him with her hand in his face/camera..” Tyhina Canto added, “The amount of people showing concern only for the dog is alarming….my stomach clenched when she started her hysterical lies. You do realize a black man in America can get killed for less than this?”
When you are too invested in bigotry that you willingly choke your own dog. https://t.co/UZuctIDjzX
— Startler and Waldorf (@Kose4by4) May 25, 2020
Another Facebook commenter, Sarah Allen, wrote, “I understand she’s being brutal towards her dog. But let’s not forget the real message here and that is the risk she is putting (to) Christian’s life . Because African Americans do not get to explain first with police interactions a lot of the time. This kind of racism is unforgivable. I hope you were able to give your side of the story to any police who showed up without confrontation.”
Stacey Lager wrote, “you should send this to the police because she flat out said she was going to make up something – that you were threatening her life – when that is clearly not true. she should be charged with making false claims and misuse of 911. i have no tolerance for intolerant people (especially those that think rules don’t apply to them). she is a racist and i’m sorry your day started out like this.”
There's a really excellent sociology paper by Yale professor Elijah Anderson on what that Central Park woman (Amy Cooper) tried to do by calling 911 on the Black birder. It's called "The White Space": https://t.co/PIeT1U5jr0
— Karen K. Ho (@karenkho) May 26, 2020
And another commenter, Jordi Schultz, wrote, ” Y’all, yes what she did to the dog is bad. But she knowingly lied to the NYPD about being in danger from a black man. She knew the cops would believe her over him based on their colors of skin. SHE COULD OF GOTTEN HIM KILLED. This nice, kind person who was just out for a nice walk! And she would of walked away Scott free. THIS. IS. WRONG. Yes, be upset about the dog, but it is not what you should be focusing on.”
This is serious. Happened today in Manhattan. As a public defender for over a decade, I have tried cases where the Manhattan DA uses a "hysterical 911 call" as categorical evidence of guilt. Usually there's no video like this to refute it. (1/4) https://t.co/rvRE8QFT5N
— Eliza Orlins (@elizaorlins) May 25, 2020
Eliza Orlins, a public defender, Manhattan District Attorney candidate and former Survivor and Amazing Race contestant tweeted, “This is serious. Happened today in Manhattan. As a public defender for over a decade, I have tried cases where the Manhattan DA uses a ‘hysterical 911 call’ as categorical evidence of guilt. Usually there’s no video like this to refute it.”
Elizabeth McLaughlin, of the Gaia Project for Women’s Leadership, tweeted, “White moms, if you are not actively talking to your kids about how to be antiracist, you need to get going. We have always been part of the problem. We have a chance to break that legacy. I’m horrified by Amy Cooper and all of her ilk. And let’s not forget: hate is taught.”
Attorney Rebecca Kavanaugh said on Twitter, “This woman (who has been identified as some sort of finance exec, Amy Cooper) needs to be charged with (at a minimum) Falsely Reporting an Incident to the Police, Harassment, and Making a Terroristic Threat.”
Writer Toni Tone said, “I can’t get over the video of the woman in NYC with her dog. The false police report and the fake cries of dispair were so disgusting. Lies and fake reactions like that get black people killed for simply existing. I hope that Amy Cooper is severely punished for her actions.”