Woman in racist Central Park confrontation sues over firing

Posted at 7:25 AM, May 27, 2021 and last updated 9:40 AM, October 13, 2021

NEW YORK (AP) — The white woman who was widely condemned and fired after a videotaped dispute with a Black birdwatcher in Central Park filed a lawsuit against her former employer, accusing the company of not doing an investigation before her termination because of her race and gender.

In her federal lawsuit, Amy Cooper said the company, Franklin Templeton, “nurtured” the idea of the confrontation last May as “a racial flashpoint, characterized as a privileged white female ‘Karen’ caught on video verbally abusing an African American male with no possible reason other than the color of his skin.”

FILE – This file image made from May 25, 2020 video provided by Christian Cooper, shows Amy Cooper with her dog talking to Christian Cooper in Central Park in New York. Amy Cooper, walking her dog who called the police during a videotaped dispute with Christian Cooper, a Black man, was charged Monday, July 6, 2020, with filing a false report. (Christian Cooper via AP, File)

She said in the lawsuit it wasn’t racism that led her to call police but fear, because she was alone and being “aggressively” confronted, and that the company would have known that with an investigation.

Cooper, who had been working as a portfolio manager at the investment firm until she was fired in the backlash to the call, accused the company of discrimination, saying an investigation would have been done if she were not a white woman.

“We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the company responded appropriately. We will defend against these baseless claims,” Franklin Templeton said in a statement.

The confrontation between Cooper and the man, Christian Cooper, who is not related to her, began over her dog being unleashed in a section of the park where that was prohibited.

Christian Cooper posted video on social media at the time telling her to go to another section of the park. The encounter escalated, with Amy Cooper warning him that she would call police and tell them there was an African American man threatening her life.

She then did call, saying she was being threatened.

She was also charged with filing a false police report, which was dismissed in February after she completed a diversionary counseling program. Prosecutors said the program included education about racial equality and five therapy sessions.

In the lawsuit, she said Christian Cooper had a history of confrontations with dog owners over their animals being off-leash, and that it was his “practice and intent to cause dog owners to be fearful for their safety and the safety of their dogs.”

Christian Cooper had no comment.