In news that is shocking to absolutely no one, misdemeanor charges have been dropped against Amy Cooper, the white woman who called the cops on a Black man in Central Park who asked her to leash her dog last May.
According to CNN, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charge of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree against Cooper. Last May, Christian Cooper (no relations, obviously) was birdwatching in Central Park when he encountered Amy Cooper, who was in the park with her dog off a leash. When Christian Cooper told her that it was against park rules to have her dog off its leash, Amy Cooper went omega-level white woman and called the police, telling Christian Cooper that she was “going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
Christian Cooper was recording the whole incident, and when officers eventually responded “Ms. Cooper admitted that the male had not ‘tried to assault’ or come into contact with her,” a release from the DA’s office notes. As a result of a video of the incident going viral, Cooper lost her job and temporarily lost custody of her dog.
The misdemeanor criminal charge against Amy Cooper was dropped as a result of her completing a series of classes and therapy sessions designed around racial equity. Assistant DA Joan Illuzzi said that the classes “focused on the ways in which Ms. Cooper could appreciate that racial identities shape our lives but we cannot use them to harm ourselves or others,” Illuzzi said.
“Given the issues at hand and Ms. Cooper’s lack of criminal background, we offered her, consistent with our position on many misdemeanor cases involving a first arrest, an alternative, restorative justice resolution; designed not just to punish but to educate and promote community healing,” Assistant DA Joan Illuzzi said in court, according to a statement.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., has said that it will pursue a legal resolution that holds Cooper “accountable while healing our community, restoring justice, and deterring others from perpetuating this racist practice.”
It should be noted that Christian Cooper wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post last year expressing his “ambivalence” about the criminal case and explaining why he refused to cooperate with the prosecution.
From the Washington Post:
Why did Cooper so easily tap into that toxic racial bias in the heat of the moment when she was looking for a leg up in our confrontation? Why is it surprising to no one that the police might come charging to her aid with special vengeance on hearing that an African American was involved? And most important of all, how do we fix policing so that scenarios such as this are replaced by a criminal justice system that is truly just and equitable to black people?
Focusing on charging Amy Cooper lets white people off the hook from all that. They can scream for her head while leaving their own prejudices unexamined. They can push for her prosecution and pat themselves on the back for having done something about racism, when they’ve actually done nothing, and their own Amy Cooper remains only one purse-clutch in the presence of a Black man away.
Complicated feelings are complicated, y’all. On the one hand, this is a more humane, restorative process than simply locking her up and throwing away the key. It’s more or less what we’ve been asking for. On the other hand, of course, white people have access to a more humane, restorative process.
Considering the number of times we’ve seen Black men and women have the book thrown at them for relatively small offenses, it can’t help but feel a bit fucked up to see a white woman threaten violence against a Black man and just get to walk away. I think it’s in large part because we know too damn well that there’s a version of this story that could’ve ended much, much worse for Christian Cooper.