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NYPD to consider charging 'Central Park Karen' with a false police call

The NYPD is deciding if charges should be brought against a woman who made a call to police after a black man asked her to put her dog on a leash in Central Park.
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta

The NYPD is deciding if charges should be brought against a Canadian woman who made a call to police after a black man asked her to put her dog on a leash in Central Park, according to the DailyMail.

A video shows Amy Cooper—who has picked up the nickname "Central Park Karen"—calling police to say that an “African-American man” was “threatening her life.” She did this after he asked her to leash her dog, and began filming her reaction.

The video of the incident, which happened last weekend in Central Park's Ramble, a series of connected nature paths, has now gone viral after being posted to the internet on Monday.

Cooper, an investment banker, was quickly dismissed from her high paying job at Franklin Templeton. She also faces possible legal consequences for the incident.

"Our detectives are working hand in hand right now with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. Obviously, we don't want to make an arrest if the DA isn't sure if they can prosecute that," said Terence Monahan, the NYPD Chief of Department.

"If it's a false call and we can prove it, there's going to be an arrest… If someone intentionally makes a false call and we can prove it, they will be arrested right away. There is no place for that in this city."

It is a criminal offence to make a false police report in New York and the charge for the that action could be either a felony or a misdemeanour, depending on the circumstances. Punishment can include imprisonment of up to a year.

Christian Cooper, the man who filmed Amy Cooper making the police call, is a birdwatcher who said that all he did was ask Amy Cooper (no relation) to put her dog on a leash.

"We're taking a look at exactly what the calls were, speaking to Christian, speaking to Amy, speaking to everyone involved, looking through all the videos to see if it sustains a charge," Officer Monahan said.

"If it's a false call and we can prove it, there's going to be an arrest… If someone intentionally makes a false call and we can prove it, they will be arrested right away. There is no place for that in this city."

In the meantime, New York State Senator Brian Benjamin and New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz are looking to bring in new legislation that will criminalize false reporting incidents similar to this one as hate crimes.

"In the past year, we have seen many instances throughout both New York State and the country of people calling 911 on black people who are going about their everyday lives, only to be interrupted by someone calling the police for reasons that range from caution, to suspicious inkling to all out hated," wrote Ortiz on Tuesday in the bill's justification.

Benjamin described the incident as "frightening" and said that the incident took place only blocks away from "many of [his] constituents."

"This woman was so willing to fabricate a story despite being filmed," he said. "I worry that if she had not been filmed, this woman may have been given the benefit of the doubt, and that this man could have faced serious, perhaps life-threatening consequences if the police had arrived."

By the time police arrived, however, both Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper had left the scene.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights announced that it is launching an investigation into the occurrence.

"At a time when the devastating impacts of racism in black communities have been made so painfully clear—from racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes, to harassment of essential workers on the frontlines—it is appalling to see these types of ugly threats directed at one New Yorker by another," said Sapna Raj who is the deputy commissioner of the Law Enforcement Bureau at the Commission on Human Rights.

"Efforts to intimidate black people by threatening to call law enforcement draw on a long, violent and painful history, and they are unacceptable. We encourage Ms. Cooper to cooperate with the Commission and meaningfully engage in a process to address the harm that she has caused," Raj added.

The body is not able to apply criminal charges but it can implement large fines for violating human rights law. It can also give compensatory damages to people who are victims of the incidents.

Amy Cooper offered Christian Cooper an apology, saying she "was the one who was acting inappropriately."

"I hope that a few mortifying seconds in a lifetime of 40 years will not define me in his eyes," she said earlier in the week.

When speaking to the view on Thursday, Christian said he has accepted the apology from Amy.

"I do accept her apology," Christian said. "I think it's a first step. I think she's gotta do some reflection on what happened because up until the moment when she made that statement."

"It was just a conflict between a birder and a dog walker, and then she took it to a very dark place. I think she's gotta sort of examine why and how that happened."

Christian spoke about the "underlying current of racism and racial perceptions that's been going on for centuries and that permeates this city and this country that she tapped into."

"That's what we really have to address; not the specifics of her, but why are we still plagued with that and how do we fix it."

Christian is a NYC Audubon Society board member and is urging people to stop sending death threats to Cooper.

"If you think that what she did was wrong, that she was trying to bring death by cop down on my head, then there is absolutely no way you can justify them turning around and putting a death threat on her head," Christian said.

"[There's] no excusing that it was a racist act because it was a racist act," Christian told the show. "But [does] that define her entire life? Only she can tell us if that defines her entire life by what she does going forward."

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Sam Edwards
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