Following a massive online backlash that cost a woman her job, her pet, and her reputation in less than a day, a man who uploaded a video of a public spat in New York is now regretting the online tsunami he caused. Christian Cooper became famous overnight after sharing an incident in which a woman he confronted in Central Park called 9-1-1 to tell police she was "being threatened by an African American man."
Christian, an avid birdwatcher, approached Amy Cooper (no relation) asking her to put her pet dog Henry on a leash, as is mandated in that part of the Park. Unleashed dogs, he said, often scared birds away from that part of the park.
According to the video, the incensed woman refused to comply with the request and instead frantically called the police to report that an African American man was threatening her. Cooper then filmed her while she insisted over the phone that police respond to the location. Her unleashed dog, who was now being yanked nervously at the collar by his owner, seemed distressed.
The video, initially shared by Cooper to Facebook, made the jump to every social media platform amassing millions of views in just days. Amy Cooper was dubbed "Central Park Karen," and panned as racist for repeatedly stating the race of her accuser while also being condemned as an animal abuser who looked to be choking her own dog.
In fewer than 48 hours, Amy Cooper's employer announced via Twitter that she had been terminated. The New York dog rescue from whom she adopted Henry also stated on Facebook that her dog had been surrendered back to them after they viewed the disturbing video. Unmoved by the carnage, the outrage mob that shared the clip of Amy tens of millions of times across the planet cheered as a woman's life was shredded before their very eyes. Some even called for Ms. Cooper to be prosecuted.
But prosecution for Amy Cooper was unnecessary. The internet acted as judge, jury, and executioner based on a very short video of a woman acting out emotionally. Her repeated mentioning of Christian's race led the outraged swarm of faceless fox chasers to immediately cry "racism," and "injustice" with zero interest in hearing more to the story. Her entire life was upended because of a bad moment with no shot at redemption.
In fact, Christian Cooper had made comments to Amy Cooper prior to flipping on his camera that were not so widely shared and could very easily have been mistaken for threatening. He shared those comments with the video on Facebook.
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...
Now, as the internet celebrates the destruction of Amy Cooper's life and the loss of her pet dog, Christian Cooper feels that things have gone too far.
"It’s a little bit of a frenzy, and I am uncomfortable with that,” he said to the New York Times. “If our goal is to change the underlying factors, I am not sure that this young woman having her life completely torn apart serves that goal."
Amy Cooper has also apologized profusely for the incident and acknowledged that her life had been blown apart by the response. She said she was worried by a stranger asserting that he would lure her dog away from her with food and reacted in a rash and unfortunate way.
"I reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions when, in fact, I was the one who was acting inappropriately by not having my dog on a leash," she said in a statement.
But even with a fuller picture of what transpired and an apology available to the public, her former employer, her dog's rescuers, and Mr. Cooper, the damage to Amy Cooper's life is not reversible. The court of social justice has already returned with a guilty verdict, and for "Central Park Karen," there are no appeals.