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A viral “Karen” video of a white woman calling the police after an African-American man asked her to leash her dog in Central Park Monday morning has resulted in the woman being placed on administrative leave, a public apology, and more details emerging about what led up to the racially charged phone call, including what the woman interpreted as a threat, and its fallout.
The viral video was taken by Christian Cooper, the African-American bird-watching enthusiast who asked the woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), to leash her dog according to park rules. In the video, Amy, who grows increasingly more panicked over the course of its filming, first warns Christian that she is going to call the police to tell them that “there’s an African-American man threatening my life.” She then calls the police and says, “There is an African-American man. I am in Central Park. He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog.”
Christian’s sister Melody posted the video on Twitter, commenting: “Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash.”
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm
— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
After the video went viral, Amy’s employer, Franklin Templeton, announced on social media that she has been placed on administrative leave. “We take these matters very seriously, and we do not condone racism of any kind,” the investment management company said in a statement Monday. “While we are in the process of investigating the situation, the employee involved has been put on administrative leave.”
In response to an incident involving an employee on May 25th, Franklin Templeton issued the following statement. pic.twitter.com/8f2lMwK0r5
— Franklin Templeton (@FTI_US) May 26, 2020
Both Amy and Christian spoke to NBC New York, the former apologetic for her “unacceptable” actions, and the latter explaining that he filmed the incident because he decided he is “not going to participate in my own dehumanization.”
In the interview with NBC, Amy explained that she called police because she feared that Christian was going to try to poison her dog. In a Facebook post Monday, Christian provided a transcript of their conversation leading up to the viral clip that provides more context for why Amy believed he was “threatening” her.
“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 before calling for her dog to come to him and pulling out a dog treat. Here’s the full text of Christian’s post:
Central Park this morning: This woman’s dog is tearing through the plantings in the Ramble.
ME: Ma’am, dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times. The sign is right there.
HER: The dog runs are closed. He needs his exercise.
ME: All you have to do is take him to the other side of the drive, outside the Ramble, and you can let him run off leash all you want.
HER: It’s too dangerous.
ME: 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.
HER: What’s that?
ME (to the dog): Come here, puppy!
HER: He won’t come to you.
ME: We’ll see about that…
I pull out the dog treats I carry for just for such intransigence. I didn’t even get a chance to toss any treats to the pooch before Karen scrambled to grab the dog.
HER: DON’T YOU TOUCH MY DOG!!!!!
That’s when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn…
In a phone interview with NBC News, Amy explained that she feared he was going to poison her dog. “Speaking exclusively to NBC New York, Amy says she overreacted but she claimed that Christian was screaming, and that she felt threatened because she didn’t know what was in the dog treats,” NBC reports.
“I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family,” Amy told NBC. “It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologize to everyone who’s seen that video, everyone that’s been offended…everyone who thinks of me in a lower light and I understand why they do. 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.”
Christian explained that his primary concern was protecting the habitat from the unleashed dog, but things took a dark turn when Amy “played the race card.”
“If the habitat is destroyed we won’t be able to go there to see the birds, to enjoy the plantings,” he said. “The only way they can keep the dog from eating the treat is to put it on a leash,” he explained. “At some point, she decided I’m gonna play the race card, I guess.”
NBC notes that along with accusation of racism, Amy has come under accusations of “animal cruelty” because she “appeared to be choking her dog for nearly a minute after she grabbed it by the collar.”
Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, from which Amy adopted the dog a few years ago, is currently holding the dog after she “voluntarily surrendered” it “while the incident is being addressed,” NBC reports.
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