WATCH: Central Park birder Christian Cooper talks to BNV about his new show, 2020 incident that changed his life
By NABJ Black News & Views
NEW YORK – On Memorial Day in 2020, the same day that George Floyd died in Minneapolis, Christian Cooper was birdwatching in Central Park in New York. Sometime into his visit to a section of the park called the Ramble, Cooper, a Black man, saw a white woman shouting after her unleashed dog – a no-no since Central Park forbids dogs to be unleashed. Cooper asked the woman to leash her dog. She refused.
In fact, Amy Cooper – no relation to Christian – instead called the police to say that a Black man was threatening her. Christian Cooper, a successful science editor and Harvard graduate, filmed the encounter on his phone. His sister posted it to Twitter.
Police reported to the scene and concluded there’d been a verbal dispute.
Once video was released of Amy Cooper’s Karen-like behavior, her punishment was swift. She was fired from her high-finance job and became the face of entitled white privilege in a world anguished over the murder of George Floyd. She was charged with misdemeanor false reporting of an incident.
But Christian Cooper, the son of civil rights activists and a board member with the New York City Audubon Society, was punished too. Black America was angered that he would not publicly excoriate Amy Cooper or pursue charges.
Three years later, Cooper is host of his own birding show on Nat Geo WILD and author of a new memoir. He opened up to Black News & Views’ Allison Davis about all this and more: