NYC Commission On Human Rights Investigates Woman In Viral Central Park Video

WCBS 880 Newsroom
May 27, 2020 - 10:09 am

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The city's Commission on Human Rights has launched an investigation into the viral verbal dispute between a white woman walking her dog and a black man bird watching in Central Park.

    The commission sent Amy Cooper a letter on Tuesday requesting her cooperation.

    Cooper called 911 to report she was being threatened by “an African-American man" after Christian Cooper, no relation, asked her to leash her dog in the Ramble on Monday.

    Sapna Raj, a deputy at the commission, told the Daily News, “Efforts to intimidate black people by threatening to call law enforcement draw on a long, violent and painful history, and they are unacceptable.”

    The agency could award damages to Christian Cooper, who filmed part of their encounter. His sister posted the video on Twitter where it's been viewed more than 40 million times.

    "We have the authority to level civil penalties if we think that's appropriate in a given case, we can order affirmative relief, such as training on these human rights laws," said Demoya Gordon, an attorney with the commission.

    Amy Cooper was fired from her job at the investment company, Franklin Templeton, and returned her cocker spaniel to the rescue group where she adopted it.

    Amy Cooper publicly apologized and told CNN, “I am not a racist.”

    The incident has also spurred legislation in the New York State Senate to make falsely reporting an incident a potential hate crime.

    Christian Cooper has not been contacted by the commission.

    In an interview with PIX11, NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker called the incident "disturbing," but said no charges will be filed.

    "We’ve got bigger fish to fry, I think, and the DA would never prosecute that.," Tucker said.

    Calling the incident "jarring" and "traumatizing," Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said, "We can't brush off or minimize this incident as an isolated occurrence when there are 'bigger fish to fry.'"

    "When the NYPD is dismissive of both aggressive overpolicing in black and brown communities, and the valid complaints and fears of those same communities, they prop up the privilege that enables these incidents, exacerbating the disparity in enforcement while denying accountability and consequences that should come as a result," Williams said. "I am glad the Commission on Human Rights is investigating the incident, an investigation which should be carried out to the fullest extent."

    Williams said Amy Cooper should at minimum be fined for her actions, which he said were racist and potentially dangerous.

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