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White woman apologizes for calling police on Black man after being asked to leash dog

Christian Cooper. WNBC video screen capture.

A white woman apologized through several news outlets Monday night after a video of an encounter with a Black man, in which she called police and said her life was being threatened, went viral earlier in the day.

The video was recorded and posted by Christian Cooper, and has been viewed millions of times in just the past 24 hours.

Cooper says he was birdwatching in an area of Central Park called The Ramble, where dogs are required to be leashed. He noticed a woman letting her dog run, and asked that she leash the dog. When she refused, he pulled a dog treat from his pocket, which he said he carries “just for such intransigence.” In an interview with WNBC Monday night, he said he offers unleashed dogs treats so that the dog owners will leash their dogs in order to keep from being fed by a stranger. When she still refused, he said he began recording.

The woman, later identified as Amy Cooper and no relation to Christian Cooper, said she was going to call police and tell them an African American man was threatening her life.

“At some point she decided, ‘Oh, I’m going to play the race card,’ I guess,” Christian Cooper told WNBC. 

Christian Cooper, a former Marvel Comics editor who now works as a biomedical editor, said he chose to record because, “I’m not going to participate in my own dehumanization. I’m not going to feed into this,” he told WNBC.

Amy Cooper told several news outlets she regretted her actions.

“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she told CNN.

“When I think about the police, I’m such a blessed person. I’ve come to realize especially today that I think of [the police] as a protection agency, and unfortunately, this has caused me to realize that there are so many people in this country that don’t have that luxury,” she told WNBC.

Amy Cooper has been placed on administrative leave from her job as a vice president at financial firm Franklin Templeton, and the dog she was walking has been surrendered to the cocker spaniel rescue from which she got it two years ago.