A white woman who called police alleging that a black man was threatening her in Central Park in New York after he asked her to put her dog on a leash was fired Tuesday.
The investment management company Franklin Templeton said it fired the woman, Amy Cooper, after an internal review after video of the incident was posted online. In the video, Cooper says she is going to call police and claim that an “African American man” is threatening her life.
“Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately,” Franklin Templeton said in a statement. “We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.”
Video of the incident had been viewed more than 29 million times as of Tuesday afternoon after it was posted to Twitter.
Christian Cooper, no relation to Amy Cooper, said he was in the park bird-watching when he noticed the dog off the leash. He told NBC News that he approached to ask the woman walking the dog to put it back on a leash, which is the park’s policy.
He said Tuesday that unleashed dogs have been a longstanding issue in the Ramble, a wooded area of Central Park, and that it wasn’t his first confrontation after having asked dog owners to leash their dogs. As an avid bird-watcher, Christian Cooper said, he is often in the Ramble and asks for dogs to be leashed to preserve the area’s environment and wildlife.
“You know, dogs off the leash in the Ramble is not anything comparable to the civil rights movement,” he said. “But one of the things I got from growing up that way is that when people trample on your rights, you don’t take that lying down. You push back. And that’s what I do.”
Christian Cooper said he began recording when the woman refused to leash her dog, and he said that was when she said she would call the police. He told NBC News that he didn’t want to “dehumanize” himself by giving in to what he considered an attempt at “racial intimidation.”
He said he wanted to move beyond the single incident, which he described as a rash judgment by a woman in a stressful situation, and focus on the larger discussion of racial bias in America.
“That undercurrent of sort of black people being treated as other, as not being seen as somebody’s son or somebody’s father or his brother and instead being treated as a menace under all circumstances just by being brown-skin, that undercurrent is the problem,” he said.
Amy Cooper later told NBC New York that she admitted to overreacting and was sorry. She claimed that Christian Cooper was yelling and that she felt concerned because he didn’t know what was in dog treats he was carrying.
“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 said.
Christian Cooper confirmed to NBC News that he does carry dog treats to get owners to leash their dogs, “because they don’t want their dog eating treats” from a stranger.
Christian Cooper said he hadn’t seen Amy Cooper’s apology, but he said he felt he could accept it as long as she was sincere and “willing to put in the work.”
“You know, she’s clearly got some issues that she’s going to have to address and do some reflection,” he said. “And, you know, confront some underlying attitudes of her own.”
Overall, he said, he wishes her no ill.
“Let’s just get on with our lives, keep our dogs on the leash in protected areas, and nobody has to go through any of this nonsense anymore,” he said.