A New York woman has faced criticism online after she called the police on a black man who requested that she restrain her dog with a leash in Central Park.
The man in question, Christian Cooper, recorded the exchange which was shared on Twitter by his sister, Melody Cooper.
"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," Melody wrote on Twitter.
Karen has become the Internet's name for all middle-class women who have been caught doing questionable things, including coughing on other people and refusing to wear a mask while shopping. Media outlets have since identified the woman as Amy Cooper (no relation).
"I'm gonna tell them there's an African American man threatening my life," Amy Cooper can be heard saying in the video before calling the police. Throughout the video, Christian Cooper makes no threats towards the woman and only asks her to stay away from him as she begins to approach.
Christian Cooper, an avid bird-watcher, claimed on Facebook that the incident took place when he explained that dogs need to wear leashes in the Rambles because it is a designated wildlife area.
Christian claimed that Amy replied that the dog runs are closed, and her pet "needs his exercise."
"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," Christian claims he responded.
He states that she replied: "It's too dangerous."
Christian says he responded: "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."
He then claimed that he called the dog towards him with "dog treats I carry for just for such intransigence." He later clarified with CNN that he keeps the treats to encourage dog owners to put their animals on a leash.
He didn't get a chance to beckon the dog "before Karen scrambled to grab the dog" and yelled: "'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," Christian claims.
Amy Cooper told CNN: "He was running in an open field. This man, he was bird-watching. He came out of the bush."
In response to Christian Cooper's comments that "I'm going to do what I want, but you're not going to like it," Amy Cooper said: "I didn't know what that meant. When you're alone in a wooded area, that's absolutely terrifying, right?"
Christian Cooper says that he asked Amy Cooper to put her dog on a leash because they disrupt the birds.
"That's important to us birders because we know that dogs won't be off leash at all and we can go there to see the ground-dwelling birds," he said. "People spend a lot of money and time planting in those areas as well. Nothing grows in a dog run for a reason."
After the video went viral, Amy Cooper was placed on administrative leave from her job as head of insurance investment solutions at Franklin Templeton, pending an investigation.
"I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family," she told NBC New York. '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 Cooper told the publication: "We live in an age of Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are gunned down because of assumptions people make about black men, black people, and I'm just not going to participate in that."
New York Police Department confirmed that no complaints or arrests were made because neither party was present when they responded.
Social media users were also critical of Amy Cooper for pulling her dog by the collar throughout the video. The backlash prompted the woman to return the animal to Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue.
"Thank you to the concerned public for reaching out to us about a video involving a dog that was adopted from our rescue a few years ago," the shelter wrote on Facebook. "As of this evening, the owner has voluntarily surrendered the dog in question to our rescue while this matter is being addressed. Our mission remains the health and safety of our rescued dogs. The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health."
Unsurprisingly, the comments were full of positive comments, but many were upset that the dog could be returned to the woman.
"You cannot possibly be even be considering giving that poor pup back to her. She should be charged for animal cruelty and never allowed ownership of any animal. Her actions were harmful to both the dog & the human," one user wrote.
Another, claiming to be a dog walker that cared for the animal in question, added: "I'm one of her former dog walkers that cared for Henry. Thank you for making sure he is safe and let me know when he is available for adoption."
While another added: "Thank goodness that dog is NOT in her possession any longer. She never deserves to own ANY animal."