On the same day that George Floyd took his last breath, Sunday, May 25, 2020, Amy Cooper tried to railroad Christian Cooper (no relation) in New York’s Central Park. I wrote about this recently, and the video of the incident has been viewed millions of times by now.
The outline of what happened is pretty well known:
- On the morning of May 25, 2020, Amy Cooper an investment banker for Franklin Templeton, was walking her dog in Central Park in an area known as the Ramble. At the same time Christian Cooper, a black birdwatcher, noticed that Amy’s dog was unleashed and running free. He asked her to leash him. She refused
- Christian began to record their interaction on his cellphone; she asked him to stop recording her.
- Amy then pulled out her own phone and dialed 911. When connected, she repeatedly told the operator that “there’s an African American man” recording her and threatening her and her dog.
- Their interaction ended shortly thereafter, and by the time the police came, neither Cooper was in that area of Central Park.
- Christian Cooper’s sister subsequently posted the video on her Twitter account, while Christian himself posted the video to his own Facebook page. Within hours of the uploads, it had been viewed millions of times.
A good deal was made in the media about the fact that Amy Cooper is not some MAGA-hat wearing Donald Drumpf supporter but a bona-fide New York liberal who has made political donations to Democrats such as Barack Obama, Pete Buttigieg, and John Kerry.
In other words, she’s like the rest of us.1
But is she?
If someone had asked me to leash my dog — I have cats, so in reality I don’t have to worry about this — never in my wildest imagination would I have thought that it would be an appropriate response to call the police. In fact, my relationship to the police has been mostly polite but adversarial. Almost all my encounters with the police involve traffic stops, where I am very polite, and they are mostly polite in return.2 On the rare occasions that our family needed the police — two break-ins and one snow blower stolen from our garage — the police did exactly nothing for us.
If I had thought to call the police under these circumstances, I wouldn’t have done it for the same reason that I don’t jump off of a bridge: impulse control.
And if I didn’t have enough impulse control not to call the police under these circumstances, I still wouldn’t have done it while some was filming me because I sure wouldn’t want there to be a video of me calling the police circulating on the Internet.
That Amy Cooper thought calling the police and lying about being threatened in response to being asked to leash her dog was an appropriate suggests that there is something seriously miswired in her brain.3 She might want to think about therapy.
Now maybe Amy Cooper is more representative of white women than I realize. Maybe I have other friends who would consider this a reasonable option under the same circumstances. I have no proof either way. All I know is that none of my friends have ever called the police for any reason while I was hanging out with them. Not my white friends, not my black friends, not any other friends.
I’m not saying that my friends and I have never engaged in micro-aggressions. I haven’t done so consciously or with intent, but I can’t swear that I have never done so. But what Amy Cooper did was not a micro-aggression. That was a macro aggression, my friends, and now she’s unemployed and has acquired lasting Internet infamy.
I’m sure she wishes she had chosen to walk her dog somewhere else that Sunday morning.
- I’ve voted for and given money to Barack Obama, John Kerry, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, among others.
- I’m very conscious of the fact that unlike African-American men, when I encounter the police I don’t take my life into my hands.
- There have also been allegations of stalking made against her, although those claims have not yet been verified.