Birdwatcher says woman in park who called cops on him ‘pulled the pin on the race grenade’

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The New York birdwatcher, whose encounter with a woman in a park last month went viral, believes that woman “pulled the pin on the race grenade” when she called the police on him.

Harvard-educated science editor Christian Cooper told CBS News host Gayle King that the white woman walking her dog in Central Park that day tapped into a “deep, dark vein of racism” when she said she was going to call the police and “tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”


(Source: CBS News/YouTube)

That woman, Amy Cooper, was fired from her financial services job after the video recorded by the birdwatcher was released and went viral. Just one day after the incident, video emerged of the arrest of George Floyd who died after being pinned under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer for several minutes.

“What made you pull out the phone and start recording it?” King asked Cooper on “CBS This Morning.”

“Well, that’s a little bit of the irony, it had nothing to do with race,” Cooper replied in the “Justice for All” special. “It was just a conflict between a dog walker and a birder.”

He had initially asked the woman to leash her dog in the area of the park where posted signs indicated that directive.

“I said, ‘Excuse me, ma’am, but dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times’… And she said, ‘Well, the dog runs are closed,'” Cooper recounted.

She threatened to call the police after he asked her not to come close to him.

“There is an African American man, I am in Central Park, he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog,” Amy Cooper said on the phone in the video.

“She basically pulled the pin on the race grenade and tried to lob it at me,” Christian Cooper told King. “At the point that she makes that phone call, it’s very clear that, you know, there is no physical threat to her at all.”

“She was going to tap into a deep, deep dark vein of racism, of racial bias that runs through this country and has for centuries,” he said.

“I don’t know whether she’s a racist or not,” he said later in the CBS News segment. “I don’t know her life. I don’t know how she lives it. That act was unmistakably racist even if she didn’t realize it in the moment.”

She later apologized for the incident in a phone interview with NBC New York.

“I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family,” she said. “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.”

She was slammed as the Central Park “Karen” after the video circulated, costing her job at investment firm Franklin Templeton. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned her actions as “racism, plain and simple.”

Speaking with King in the CBS News special, Cooper said he wasn’t sure “someone’s life should be defined by 60 seconds of poor judgment.”

Cooper’s sister Melody, who was also part of the interview with King, disagreed.

“I think he is very much taking the higher road,” she said.

“His point of view is a little bit different than mine,” she added, saying earlier that “it hit home, it struck a chord for me to see my own brother put through that.”

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Frieda Powers

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