White woman fired after reporting black birdwatcher in New York's Central Park to police

A screenshot of the woman from a video posted on Facebook by Christian Cooper.
A screenshot of the woman from a video posted on Facebook by Christian Cooper.SCREENSHOT: FACEBOOK

NEW YORK (AFP) - A video of a white woman calling the police about a black birdwatcher in New York’s Central Park has gone viral, sparking anger about African Americans being falsely reported to the police.

The woman has since been fired from her job..

The clip, posted on Twitter and viewed 30 million times, was filmed by the man, Christian Cooper, who said he had asked the woman to leash her dog.

She was walking the pooch on Monday in a wooded area of the park popular with birdwatchers where dogs are meant to be kept on leads.

As the woman struggles to control the dog, she approaches Cooper and is then seen making a phone call.

“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” she tells Cooper while appearing to dial 911.

“There is an African-American man, I’m in Central Park. He’s recording me and threatening me and threatening my dog,” she then tells the operator.

The exchange prompted outrage on social media, with users calling the woman a “Karen,” a term popular online to describe an entitled white woman.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio condemned her actions as “racism, plain and simple.” 

“She called the police BECAUSE he was a Black man. Even though she was the one breaking the rules. She decided he was the criminal and we know why. This kind of hatred has no place in our city,” he tweeted.

The woman was identified as Amy Cooper, no relation to the man she argued with. She worked in insurance at investment management company Franklin Templeton.

She apologised during an interview with NBC but denied that she was racist, saying she had overreacted after feeling threatened.

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

In a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday (May 26), Franklin Templeton said it had fired an employee with immediate effect following an investigation.

“We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton,” the company said.

On Facebook, Christian Cooper said he had offered the dog a treat after the woman refused his request to leash the dog.

“That’s when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn,” he wrote.