Christian Cooper, the black man who recorded a disturbing confrontation with a white woman in New York City’s Central Park, said he accepts her apology but pointed out that the incident is part of a much deeper problem of racism in the United States that must be addressed.
Cooper was bird watching on Memorial Day in an area of the park called the Ramble, which is home to "delicate" plants and wildlife, when he saw Amy Cooper walking her dog off-leash, he told "The View" on Thursday. Christian Cooper began recording Amy Cooper on his cellphone after he says he asked her to leash her dog and after he offered her dog treats to try to lure him out of a plant bed.
“It’s posted all over the Ramble -- dogs are supposed to be on a leash at all times -- but unfortunately, we’ve had a problem with this for many, many years. A lot of us have been recording these incidents,” he said, noting that the recordings could be used as evidence for why the rule must be enforced.
In the now-viral video, the confrontation can be seen heating up quickly as Amy Cooper says she's going to call the police on Christian Cooper and that she's going to say, "There's an African American man threatening my life."
“At that point I was faced with a decision," Christian Cooper said. "Do I capitulate to that attempt to use race to leverage what she wanted, or do I sort of stick [to] my guns and keep recording? I really kinda decided consciously, I'm not going to participate in my own dehumanization.”
Christian Cooper's sister, Melody Cooper, posted the video taken by her brother onto social media, subsequently igniting outrage around the world.
“When I saw my brother’s video, it was personal,” she told “The View.” “I just imagined what happened to Mike Brown or George Floyd happening to him, and I wanted to make sure no other black person would have to go through that kind of weaponization of racism from her.”
Christian Cooper is a Harvard graduate, a pioneering comic book writer and biomedical editor for Health Science Communications. But that doesn’t matter in this situation, his sister said.
“If the cops showed up, they wouldn’t have seen his resume or known his job,” Melody Cooper said. “This kind of racism can kill people. It could’ve killed my brother.”
Amy Cooper has since lost her job at the investment firm Franklin Templeton. She has issued an apology, saying in part, “I hope that a few mortifying seconds in a lifetime of 40 years will not define me in his eyes and that he will accept my sincere apology.”
“I do accept her apology,” Christian Cooper 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 Cooper urged viewers to look at the bigger picture of racism that the encounter displayed.
“It’s not really about her and her poor judgement in a snap second,” he said. “It’s 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,” he added.
Christian Cooper doubled down on his previous calls to end what Amy Cooper has described as death threats against her.
“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 then turning around and putting a death threat on her head,” he said.
Cooper added that he’s “uncomfortable” with defining her by “a couple seconds … of very poor judgement.”
“[There’s] no excusing that it was a racist act because it was a racist act," he said. "But [does] that define her entire life? Only she can tell us if that defines her entire life by what she does going forward."