Christian Cooper, the Black man who filmed a White woman calling the police on him while he was birdwatching in New York’s Central Park in May, says he’s not cooperating in her prosecution — which “lets white people off the hook” and “their own prejudices unexamined.”
“I think it’s a mistake to focus on this one individual,” Cooper wrote in an Opinion piece Monday in The Washington Post. “The important thing the incident highlights is the long-standing, deep-seated racial bias against us black and brown folk that permeates the United States.”
The Manhattan district attorney is prosecuting the woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), on a charge of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree. She has been issued a desk appearance ticket and is scheduled for arraignment October 14.
“I’m ambivalent about the prosecution and have chosen not to aid the investigation,” Cooper wrote.
“Focusing on charging Amy Cooper lets white people off the hook from all that,” he added.
“They can scream for her head while leaving their own prejudices unexamined. They can push for her prosecution and pat themselves on the back for having done something about racism, when they’ve actually done nothing, and their own Amy Cooper remains only one purse-clutch in the presence of a black man away.”
‘I must err on the side of compassion’
Cooper was walking her dog in Central Park in May when she encountered Christian Cooper in a wooded area known as the Ramble. A dispute began because her dog was not on a leash, contrary to the Ramble’s rules, both of them told CNN.
Christian Cooper posted on Facebook a part of their exchange that he filmed, which then was shared widely as another example of White people calling the police on Black people for mundane things. In the recording, he is silent for the most part, while she frantically tells police he is threatening her and her dog.
“Considering that Amy Cooper has already lost her job and her reputation, it’s hard to see what is to be gained by a criminal charge, aside from the upholding of principle,” Christian Cooper wrote in The Post.
“If her current setbacks aren’t deterrent enough to others seeking to weaponize race, it’s unlikely the threat of legal action would change that.”
He wrote that “if the fear is that police would have done me harm” after the woman’s call “then the solution is to fix policing.”
“I must err on the side of compassion and choose not to be involved in this prosecution,” Cooper wrote. “Let the DA do his job. He has already decided to pursue charges; if he feels my involvement is essential to the case, he can subpoena me. If subpoenaed, I will testify, truthfully and accurately. Otherwise, the case is the DA’s, not mine.”
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance declined comment, spokesman Danny Frost said.
Amy Cooper’s attorney decries ‘cancel culture’
An attorney for Amy Cooper has said that she would be acquitted and decried the rise of “cancel culture.”
“When all the facts are known, Amy Cooper will be found not guilty of the single misdemeanor charge she faces,” attorney Robert Barnes said in a statement earlier this month. “Based on a misunderstood 60 seconds of video, she lost her job, her home and her reputation.
“Public shaming, lost employment, denied benefits & now prison time for a mis-perceived, momentary alleged ‘wrong think’? For words said in a sixty second interaction where even the alleged victim calls this reaction way excessive? This criminalized, cancel culture is cancerous & precarious. That is why acquitting Amy Cooper is important.”
Christian Cooper’s video of the incident went viral. In it, Amy Cooper is heard saying: “I’m taking a picture and calling the cops. I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
Amy Cooper told CNN in May that she wanted to “publicly apologize to everyone.”
“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she said, adding that she also didn’t mean any harm to the African American community.