Remember Cooper vs. Cooper, The Racist Dog Owner Against The Black Birdwatcher In Central Park? Well, Our Crack Journalists Finally Got All The Facts Nailed Down 15 Months Later…

Amy Cooper

…but not before Amy Cooper had to flee the country and go into hiding.

To refresh your memory about this Ethics Train Wreck that has been silently rolling all this time, review the posts about on Ethics Alarms here (describing the episode, or at least as we told about it), here, about a month later, commenting on New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s unethical decision to prosecute Amy Cooper (which he partially justified based on the the intervening George Floyd Freakout), and finally here, from March, when I discussed Amy having to agree to endure state-mandate brainwashing in order to have Vance’s persecution dropped. The short version—but read the posts—is that White Amy Cooper walking her dog off-leash in Central Park was confronted by Black Christian Cooper, a birdwatching enthusiast, who demanded that she leash her dog and filmed her reactions as she demanded that he stop, then called 911. His video showed her telling authorities with increasing agitation that “An African-American man” was threatening her. Black Cooper’s sister then posted the video on line,White Amy became the personification of a racist “Karen,” and the story nicely set the stage for the George Floyd mess, which, through contrived logic and unscrupulous hype, it was linked to.

I must confess that I am proud of Ethics Alarms for its coverage of this case. Even before I had the additional facts (because nobody did), I correctly discerned that both Amy and Christian Cooper, the black bird-watcher whom she called the cops on,

—behaved like jerks,

—that the fury Christian brought down on Amy’s head was disproportionate to her conduct,

—that Don Lemon and others making what was a minor local tiff into a national controversy was unconscionable, and

—that Amy did not deserve to lose her job, career, dog and reputation, plus be prosecuted and get a lifetime ban from using Central Park,

….because, in essence, she was white and behaved like an asshole. (Some readers seemed to think that the fact that Amy eventually got her dog back was sufficient mitigation.) I wrote in the first post, “Proportion is an ethical value. It appears to be completely absent from this fiasco, on all sides.” Truer words I have seldom published, and that was before the recent revelations.

Bari Weiss, the New York Times rebel and exile I wrote about here, has a podcast, and in her most recent release reveals what some non-mainstream media reporters discovered when they dug deeper than their mainstream counterparts bothered to do. Amy Cooper, now living abroad to escape the constant harassment and abuse she endured in the wake of the incident, also is interviewed.

We learn that…

  • …the birdwatcher-“dog people” feud had been raging not just in Central Park but in other cities for more than a year. The “confront and film” strategy had been adopted by other birdwatchers, and other “dog people”—not all of the white— had experienced intense confrontations with…Christian Cooper in Central Park. A recording of Christian Cooper at a local community board meeting just days before his encounter with Amy featured him saying, “It’s getting super ugly between birders and unleashed dog walkers,” he says. “I’ve been assaulted twice so far this spring, people actually putting their hands on me, which really surprises me, because I’m not a small guy.” Why that matters: It means that Amy Cooper was not alone in finding Christian Cooper’s methods upsetting and creepy, at least raising the rebuttable presumption that it was not his race that triggered her conduct.
  • …the Facebook post that Christian shared when he uploaded the original video suggested that he had, in fact, threatened Amy.  Christian wrote that before his camera started recording the incident, he had said, “Look, if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it.” Christian said that that he pulled out “the dog treats I carry for just for  such intransigence.” This was another common tactic of the birdwatchers in their battles with dog walkers. Jerome Lockett, a black man who said Christian had “aggressively” threatened him in the park, testified in May that “when I saw that video, I thought, I cannot imagine if he approached her the same way how she may have genuinely been afraid for her life.” He continued, “If I wasn’t who I was, I would of [sic] called the police on that guy too.” Why that matters: Amy may have been justified in  feeling threatened.
  • the recording of Amy Cooper’s 911 call reveals that her repeated reference to his race  and the growing hysteria displayed in the video was the result of a bad cell phone connection.She couldn’t make herself understood, so kept repeating the same complaint with escalating volume and urgency. Why this matters: The media narrative was that Amy Cooper was engaging in a “performance” to exaggerate her fear of a black man. The version of her call portrayed by the viral video was misleading.

As Megan Phelps-Roper writes on substack,

“So why tell this story? It’s not because Amy Cooper’s life was destroyed by this video, though that is a tragedy. Nor is telling this story an attempt to deny the existence of racism and its insidious legacy. …To tell this story is to address a different set of problems. Among them: our collective intoxication with public shaming. Our willingness to dispense with due process when we think we “know” the truth in the absence of evidence. The media’s complicity in perpetuating public judgments, even when the facts directly contradict those judgments. The lack of proportion in the punishments meted out to perceived offenders. The absence of any avenue for redemption or reconciliation when a breach has been made. And the mercilessness shown to those at the center of these storms, often leaving them suicidal and broken.”

All true. And frankly, all of that should have been evident before these new facts, which the news media was obligated to track down but didn’t bother because they had their narrative, came to light.

17 thoughts on “Remember Cooper vs. Cooper, The Racist Dog Owner Against The Black Birdwatcher In Central Park? Well, Our Crack Journalists Finally Got All The Facts Nailed Down 15 Months Later…

      • But wasn’t she trying to describe the guy who was threatening her so he could be identified by the police once they came on the scene? And didn’t she say he was African American (very polite, I’d say) repeatedly because her phone was breaking up? If the alleged assailant had been white, wouldn’t she have mentioned that?

        • I’m with OB on this issue. If she described the guy was :African-American because the 911 operator asked for a description, and the jackass birdwatcher had, in fact, threatened her or her dog, then his race was an important factor in identifying him for law enforcement. What was she supposed to do? Tell the emergency operator, “well, there’s this guy, see? And he’s saying mean things to me and threatening my dog . . . What’s that? Yeah, he is male (assuming his gender), between 30 and forty (assuming his age), stands about 6 feet tall (assuming his size), weights between 180 and 200 pounds (fat shaming), has two arms and legs (assuming his disabilities), and is wearing a blue shirt and khaki pants (assuming his affluence). What’s that? His race? Well . . . I don’t see race – I only see privileged or unprivileged, so . . . considering the situation, I would suggest (but cannot not assume) that he (those pesky gender assumptions again) that he (gah!!!!) is unprivileged.”

          Isn’t this what got NBC in trouble when it intentionally edited George (but not St. George of the Floyd) Zimmerman’s call to the 911 operator? This entire episode was spun to put a thirty-something white woman in the worst light possible to show just one more instance of white people being mean to minorities.

          But this statement from the article, “So why tell this story? It’s not because Amy Cooper’s life was destroyed by this video, though that is a tragedy,” is what really drives me crazy. The author’s dismissive nonchalance about someone’s life being turned upside down and torn apart in the media is indicative of why people either hate or distrust the media. Amy Cooper lost her job, her apartment, her dog (how fucking cruel is that??), and has been destroyed in the press because some jackass filmed his encounter with her and allowed it to be published for the entire world to see. She may rate somewhere on the Asshole Spectrum, but Christian Cooper sores heads and feet above the rest of them. That guy should be suffer the same, if not greater humiliation because of what he did.

          jvb

  1. Was the guy luring unleashed dogs away from their owners with dog treats? Was she justifiably concerned he was trying to snatch her dog as some sort of vigilante citizen’s arrest?

    • Apparently the routine is to lure the unleashed dog with treats, and leash it. It is seriously bad dog etiquette to offer a dog treats without an owner’s permission.

      My dad’s beloved dog Bumbo was poisoned when he was 10.

      • Our first dog was poisoned by a neighbor. Blackie. It occurred before my recollection but there’s photo of me with Blackie. Just one of the crappy things that happened to my Dad.

      • I read that he threatened to hurt the dog. That’s not saying, “come over here, Remy, and have a cookie” and gently placing a leash on his harness. That guy is a jerk and I hope a pit bull bites him. Hard.

        jvb

      • “You’re not going to like what I’m going to do”, coupled with offering the dog a “treat” could immediately be suspected as a threat to poison the dog. It’s the first thing I thought of.

        By the way, is the leading pic a shot of her being attacked by a pit bull? 😉

    • That’s what I’ve maintained all along. She had every reason to be intimidated by someone trying to lure her dog away with a treat. Unless he flat out told her, “I’m going to leash him myself”, she had no way of knowing his intent when he told her she wasn’t going to like what he was going to do and pulled a treat out. She could have legitimately feared an abduction or injury to her dog.

      No, dogs aren’t children, but many people think of dogs as members of their families. Imagine your child is running amok and some stranger tells you to get some control. Yes, it’s your responsibility to control your child, but that stranger has no right to tell you that you won’t like what he is about to do, pull out a piece of candy and try to draw the child away from you and toward him. Any parent would feel threatened by those actions.

      Proportion is the key here and Christian Cooper’s reaction was not proportional to the offense.

    • My dad almost did, after a poorly cared for dog owned by the neighbor was allowed to wander the neighborhood and bit 5yo me who had no sense of avoiding strange animals. He told the owner to keep the dog in henceforth or he’d poison it. I never poisoned one, but when a dummy let his dog off the lead near the PA house and he decided to run up to me, well, he’s lucky he managed to call him off, or I would have thwapped him with my walking staff.

      • Back before electricity or dirt, in the ’50s and early ’60s of suburban Miami, Florida (think Shaker Heights, Ohio of “Leave it to Beaver” but more modest houses), there were very few fences along property lines. Our dogs were let out to do their business and they could roam freely until they were called in and we kids could roam freely and play Army in anyone’s yard. Looking back, it was kind of strange but it was as if we lived on a farm. The dogs seemed to avoid getting hit by cars or wandering too far afield. Everybody knew our dog. All the kids played with him. He basically acted like a greased pig and everyone would try to catch him. The only crazy dog was my friend’s Dalmatian. They kept him fenced in and I think that made him nuts. They just weren’t very sympatico with dogs.

        And besides, Steve, every dog gets one bite. Or at least they did in the late ’70s in my Torts class. And there’s a major difference between thwapping a dog and fatally poisoning it.

        • That sounds about like the dynamics of my baby-boomer neighborhood, where nearly every house had a kid or few near my age, and often a dog to wander around with them. Oddly, the only dog to ever bite me was a Dalmatian, who came up from behind while I was sitting and, completely unprovoked, bit me on the shoulder. Thankfully, his kid was standing nearby and pulled him off. The dog’s (adult) family was already viewed as a bit sketchy. The parents were Yankees, though by being there, they had obviously made an effort to remedy that. More unforgiveable, perhaps, was that the father was a lawyer.

  2. What I’m getting from this story is that, ultimately, white people should avoid interacting with black people completely unless they are willing to risk having their entire lives ruined. This is a scenario where a bully goes around deliberately accosting strangers and provoking potentially violent incidents, but is considered the victim because he happens to be black and she happens to be white. Essentially, the leftist media has created an environment in which white people are in perpetual danger of having their lives destroyed every time they interact with a non-white person, no matter the context. That is not conducive to positive race relations. It’s a recipe for self-segregation.

  3. Where media reporting is concerned, I lost most of my idealism by my mid-20s and became a confirmed realist, but soon began leaning toward skepticism and have often had dalliances with cynicism. Seldom does a story as initially reported inspire confidence that the whole truth has been entirely or even substantially told. Usually the follow-up stories don’t contain new or more accurate information even when it is readily available. Often, little to no effort is made to set the record straight when erroneous information has been reported. In recent years this has crossed the line from sloppy reporting to frequent intentional misinformation.
    The ruling elite, their media lapdogs, their weaponized special interest groups and the politicized federal bureaucracy have absolutely no qualms about using selective reporting, misdirection, deception and outright lies to keep us proles in line and uninformed. I can’t help but believe that a reckoning is on the horizon.
    I’m just hoping that the real facts of the January 6th “Insurrection!” come to light within my lifetime.

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