A white woman who called New York City police and said a black man was threatening her after he says he asked her to leash her dog in Central Park is being condemned for her behavior.
The Central Park South Civic Association is calling for a lifetime ban of the woman from the park, who identified herself as Amy Cooper, after a video of the incident surfaced on social media.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also condemned her actions in a tweet.
"The video out of Central Park is racism, plain and simple," de Blasio said in a tweet Tuesday. "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."
Benjamin Tucker, first deputy commissioner for the New York City Police Department, said it was "disturbing" that Cooper brought the man's race into the situation.
"It's hard to understand why she did what she did," Tucker told WPIX on Tuesday, adding, "She's got a dog. The signs say that dogs must be leashed. She wasn't in compliance so in effect she was the problem and not the gentlemen who asked her to put her dog on a leash."
He said Cooper and the man were both gone by the time police arrived.
Christian Cooper — no relation to Amy — told NBC New York that he was bird watching at the park on Monday when he saw a dog running free. He approached the woman and asked her to put a leash on the dog, as regulated.
The woman refused and Christian Cooper began recording on his cellphone, which his sister later shared on social media.
In the video, Amy Cooper demands he stop filming her and then pulls out her phone saying, "I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life."
"Please tell them whatever you like," Christian Cooper responds. As the woman calls, she's seen grabbing the dog by its collar.
During the phone conversation, the woman says that a "man, African American" is threatening her and her dog. "I'm being threatened by a man in the Ramble. Please send the cops immediately," she says in the video, appearing to get frantic.
Christian Cooper thanks the woman and stops recording after she puts the leash on her dog. He told NBC New York that he just wanted the woman to follow the rules for that area of the park to protect the environment.
"At some point, she decided I’m gonna play the race card, I guess," he said.
The Central Park South Civic Association President Michael Fischer condemned the woman's actions as "unacceptable" and something that should not be tolerated. He called on de Blasio to intervene.
"The Central Park Civic Association condemns this behavior and is calling on Mayor de Blasio to impose a lifetime ban on this lady for her deliberate, racial misleading of law enforcement and violating behavioral guidelines set so that all can enjoy our city’s most famous park," he said in a statement.
Fischer said the video shows Amy Cooper "violating park rules of failing to leash her dog, charging a man during a time of social distancing, and inciting racial prejudice during the altercation."
The National Audubon Society said Christian Cooper is a board member of its New York City chapter.
“Black Americans often face terrible daily dangers in outdoor spaces, where they are subjected to unwarranted suspicion, confrontation, and violence,” said Audubon SVP for State Programs Rebeccah Sanders. “The outdoors — and the joy of birds — should be safe and welcoming for all people."
Other notable people had similar reactions.
Amy Cooper was initially placed on administrative leave by her job, then eventually fired on Tuesday. She has since apologized, saying in a statement, "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 claimed that she felt threatened but that she overreacted.