Christian Cooper, the black birdwatcher who had the police called on him by a white woman after asking her to put her dog on a leash, has spoken out about the incident.
On Tuesday night he gave a thoughtful interview to CNN's Don Lemon where he responded to Amy Cooper's (no relation) apology.
"I think her apology is sincere," Cooper told Lemon. "I'm not sure that in that apology she recognizes that while she may not be or consider herself a racist, that particular act was definitely racist."
Christian Cooper is a Harvard University grad, former Marvel Comics editor and a current member of the board of directors for the New York City chapter of the Audubon Society.
In the video taken by Christian, Amy frantically tells the police "I'm taking a picture and calling the cops," she says. "I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life."
The video is disturbing because Amy pretends as though her life is in danger, putting Christian in a dangerous situation. Who knows how the police will react to a black man they believe is threatening the life of a white woman.
Christian was completely aware that she was putting his life in danger during the incident.
"You know, the simple fact of my skin color means that I run the risk of being perceived as a menace or a threat despite the fact that I'm doing the exact same thing as anybody else in that park," he told NPR.
Amy issued a statement to CNN apologizing her behavior saying "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.
She called police on him in Central Park. Hear his responsewww.youtube.com
Even though Amy threatened his life, Christian is still willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.
"Is she a racist? I can't answer that," he told Lemon. "Only she can answer that. And I would submit probably the only way she's going to answer that is going forward. How she conducts herself and, you know, how she chooses to reflect on this situation and examine it."
Amy was fired from her job at Franklin Templeton after a video of the incident went viral.
"Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton," the company said on Twitter Tuesday.
In response to an incident involving an employee on May 25th, Franklin Templeton issued the following statement. https://t.co/8f2lMwK0r5— Franklin Templeton (@Franklin Templeton) 1590461004.0
Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the… https://t.co/3GkCjsaYn7— Franklin Templeton (@Franklin Templeton) 1590517491.0
Amy Cooper's actions were clearly racially motivated and she intentionally put Christian's life in danger. But he still hesitates to say her life should be forever ruined by the incident.
"Now, should she be defined by that, you know, couple-of-seconds moment? I can't answer that," he told NPR.
The video has prompted people to make death threats against Amy which Christian has condemned.
"I am told there has been death threats and that is wholly inappropriate and abhorrent and should stop immediately," Christian said.
"I find it strange that people who were upset that ... that she tried to bring death by cop down on my head, would then turn around and try to put death threats on her head. Where is the logic in that?" he said. "Where does that make any kind of sense?"
After having his life threatened by Amy, Christian has all right to demonize her in public. But, instead, he has chosen to provide a thoughtful response to her racist act, put it in context and condemned those who wish violence upon her. His calm reaction to her racist tirade should be praised as loudly as her actions should be criticized.
This is Christian Cooper. https://t.co/gOQyVztX5h— Joshua Potash (@Joshua Potash) 1590515086.0
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