Why Christian Cooper Won’t Pursue Charges Against Amy Cooper

Chelsey Sanchez
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

While the Manhattan district attorney pursues charges against Amy Cooper—a white woman who was filmed calling the cops on Christian Cooper, a Black man, after he asked her to leash her dog in Central Park—Christian will not be cooperating with the investigation.

After the video went viral in late May, just a day before Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country following the police killing of George Floyd, Amy reportedly lost her job and issued a public apology for her behavior. The video that Christian (who bears no relation to Amy) filmed shows Amy calling the police, claiming, "There's an African-American man threatening my life"—it's conduct that embodies to many the casual way in which white people weaponize their whiteness and 911 calls against Black people. As the Black Lives Matter protesters have demonstrated over the past several weeks, such interactions between the police and Black people can oftentimes be fatal.

On Monday, Amy was charged with filing a false report, a misdemeanor that could land her a one-year sentence behind bars. Christian, however, isn't interested in pursuing charges against her. In a statement per The New York Times, Christian said, "On the one hand, she's already paid a steep price. That's not enough of a deterrent to others? Bringing her more misery just seems like piling on. So if the DA feels the need to pursue charges, he should pursue charges. But he can do that without me."

Christian's decision was met with controversy, as it comes amid widespread calls to defund the police and the injection of abolitionist frameworks into the mainstream. Those opposed to his decision argue that Amy should face the material consequences of the justice system in order to be made an example.

Twitter user SincerelyTops, a producer of Blvck Canvas TV, wrote, "This isn't just about Christian Cooper tbh, it's much bigger than him. Amy Cooper should absolutely be charged, perhaps it will serve as a lesson and a deterrent to others who think they can play around with the lives of Black people."

Still, many—especially abolitionists—have praised Christian's decision as contributing to an anti-carceral future, in which true justice will not rely on the very system that thousands are currently protesting against.

As Josie Duffy Rice, president of criminal justice news outlet The Appeal, wrote over a series of tweets, "We don't have to charge Amy Cooper, and we shouldn't charge Amy Cooper. Charging her is the easy solution. It's the easy way out. And it reinforces the idea that justice can only be found in the disastrous carceral system we've created. It's very hard to sit with the idea that someone like amy cooper shouldn't be charged because we are constantly constantly convinced that this is the system through which justice is done. but I urge you to sit with it. ask yourself what criminal charges can do to amy cooper that hasn't already been done. has she not faced consequences? she did something absolutely horrible and she lost her job, her dog, her personal business was on the front page of the paper, we all know her face & her story."

Christian, an avid bird-watcher, previously spoke to the Times about the incident. "It's not about her," he said. "What she did was tap into a deep vein of racial bias. And it is that deep vein of racial bias that keeps cropping up that led to much more serious events and much more serious repercussions than my little dust-up with Amy Cooper—the murder of George Floyd, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, and before that Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond and Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.”

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