Christian Cooper is a Harvard-educated New York senior biomedical editor and former comic book editor who recorded a viral video in which a woman calls police on him in Central Park after he says he asked her to leash her dog.
The video has now been viewed many millions of times. The woman has been identified as Amy Cooper. Heavy has reached out to both Coopers (who are not related) for comment. Christian Cooper is black, and Amy Cooper is white, and she brings up his race several times in the video. The video was recorded by Christian Cooper on Memorial Day 2020 in the Ramble section of Central Park.
Amy Cooper’s actions have sparked outrage online; some people on social media have dubbed Amy Cooper “Central Park Karen.” She works as vice president of an investment firm (learn more about her background here.) She was on administrative leave while her company investigated the matter. The company, Templeton Franklin, has now terminated Amy Cooper, writing on Twitter, “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.”
“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),” wrote Christian Cooper on his Facebook page. He added, “I’m fine… At this point, I’m getting used to this. Though the full-on racist slant was new.” Amy Cooper has now apologized, telling CNN, “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way…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.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Christian Cooper’s Video Shows the Woman Referring to His Race Repeatedly as She Calls the Police on Him
Christian Cooper explained on Facebook what he says happened leading up to the video’s start. Here’s what he wrote:
Central Park this morning: This woman’s dog is tearing through the plantings in the Ramble.
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…
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.
HER: DON’T YOU TOUCH MY DOG!!!!!
That’s when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn…
The video starts with Amy Cooper holding her dog and Christian Cooper recording the scene. “Will you please stop. Sir, I’m asking you to stop,” she says, moving toward him.
“Please don’t come close to me,” Christian Cooper says.
“Sir, I’m asking you to stop recording me,” says Amy Cooper. She points her finger at him and says she’s going to call the cops.
“Please call the cops,” he says.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says.
“Please tell them whatever you’d like,” Christian Cooper says.
She makes a call and says, “I’m sorry. I’m in the Ramble, and there is a man, African American… He’s recording me and threatening me and my dog. There is an African American man. I am in Central Park and he’s recording me and threatening myself and my dog.”
The dog tries to wriggle away as she grasps his collar. Amy Cooper raises her voice.
“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,” she says with elevated voice.
Amy Cooper then manages to get the leash onto her dog’s collar.
“Thank you,” says Christian Cooper before ending the video.
The video doesn’t show Christian Cooper making any threats. Christian 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.”
2. Christian’s Sister Melody Helped the Video Go Viral & Police Did Respond to the Scene But Made No Arrests
Melody Cooper, Christian’s sister, describes herself on Twitter as “Sci Fi/Horror Writer/Director.” She has been writing about the incident on Twitter and helped her brother’s video go viral. “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,” she wrote on May 25. “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.”
Melody Cooper posted the video on her Twitter page. “Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble (Ramble) 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,” she wrote. The video has had almost 11 million views.
ABC 7 New York’s Morena Basteiro tweeted that the NYPD had released these details: “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.”
3. Christian Cooper’s Dad Worked on Civil Rights Issues & Taught His Children That It Was Their ‘Personal Responsibility’ to Act if They Witness Wrongdoing
According to a March 2019 obituary profile in Newsday, Christian Cooper’s father Francis Hedgeman Cooper was a “science teacher and longtime civil rights and community activist.” He died at age 86.
Francis Cooper led a Long Island civil rights organization in the 1960s called the Congress of Racial Equality, according to the Newsday article.
Christian Cooper, who was interviewed for that article, told Newsday that his dad worked hard to “improve the failing Roosevelt schools” and had suffered discrimination in the U.S. Air Force.
“He had an inability to sit still when he perceived something was wrong,” said Christian Cooper to Newsday. “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 explained how Francis Cooper would record public meetings to “keep people honest.” Christian Cooper’s mother is named Miriam.
4. Christian Cooper is a Senior Biomedical Editor and Edited Well-Known Comics
According to his LinkedIn page, Christian Cooper is a “Senior Biomedical Editor at Health Science Communications.” He wrote that he worked at Marvel Comics for nine years as a freelance writer from 1991 to 1999 and as an associate editor.
Christian Cooper edited “Blade: The Vampire Hunter” and, briefly, “The Punisher,” he wrote on LinkedIn. He created and wrote “Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins” and “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy,” according to his LinkedIn page.
He has a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University. On Facebook, he writes about politics, movies and issues like climate change and marriage equality. “The traditional pre-marathon tableau of junk food, to fuel tomorrow’s 24 consecutive hours of science fiction movies; to be supplemented on premises of the Somerville Theatre with popcorn and Coke, not to mention J.P. Licks ice cream and other Boston-area treats,” he wrote with one post.
5. Amy Cooper Works at an Asset Management Firm, Which Released a Statement Saying It Was Investigating the Incident
Amy Cooper was identified by her dog walkers. She works at Franklin Templeton Investments, a multi-billion-dollar asset management firm.
In a statement, the company said, “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.”
The dog is named Henry. “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,” wrote Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue Inc. “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.”
According to her LinkedIn 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.” She is a native of Canada.