- When a black man asked a white woman to leash her dog in an area of Central Park where she was required to do so, she refused.
- She then called the police, claiming that an African American man was threatening her life.
- Viral video of the exchange led to backlash against the woman, who was fired from her job.
- She also returned her pet to an adoption shelter after criticism over how she cares for the animal.
What Happened Before the Viral Video
A woman in New York was fired from job Tuesday after a viral video showed her calling the police on a black man who asked her to put her dog on a leash.
The footage spread across social media Monday and caused a flood of outrage; however, more information about what exactly lead up the exchange has been shared by both parties involved.
Let’s take a look at all of those claims before jumping into the video itself.
The incident happened in Central Park early Monday when a man by the name of Christian Cooper was out bird watching. Christian said he approached the woman after he noticed her dog running free in the Ramble, an area full of thick greenery that attracts over 200 bird species.
In a Facebook post that he made about their exchange, Christian said he told her, “Ma’am, dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times. The sign is right there.”
The dog owner has since been identified as Amy Cooper (no relation to Christian Cooper). According to his post, she allegedly told him that dog runs are closed and her pet needed exercise.
After he noted that she could take the dog outside the Ramble to run free, she refused. Then he allegedly said, “Look, if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it.”
Amy told CNN, “I didn’t know what that meant. When you’re alone in a wooded area, that’s absolutely terrifying, right?”
She also said he came out of a bush and was screaming at her, but Christian says he was “actually pretty calm.”
At this point, Christian says he pulled out some dog treats that he keeps on him to get owners to leash their pets. He said he finds that owners hate when strangers feed their dogs, which usually prompts them to leash their animals afterward.
Amy told CNN that Christian was throwing the treats at her dog, but Christian said he never even had a chance to. This is apparently when he started recording the incident on his phone.
He attached that video to his Facebook post and his sister shared on Twitter, where it spread like wildfire.
The Viral Video
The video starts with Amy asking Christian to stop recording. She begins to approach him while pulling her dog by its collar and Christian says “please don’t come close to me.”
“Sir, I’m asking you to stop recording me,” she says.
“Please don’t come close to me,” he replies as she raises her hand in the air towards him. She then tells him that she’s calling the cops and he encourages her to do so.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says.
“Please tell them whatever you like,” he responds.
The woman begins to back away while on her phone, still pulling her dog along by its collar as it tries to break free from her hold.
“I’m sorry. I’m in the Ramble and there is a man, African American, he has a bicycle helmet. He is recording me and threatening me and my dog,” she says.
She repeats her claim again as the dog yelps and tries harder to break free.
At this point, she seems a bit out of breath after trying to restrain her dog, and she shouts a much more desperate plea to the person on the other end of the call.
“I’m sorry,” she says as she finally leashes her dog. “I can’t hear clear either. I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble! Please send the cops immediately!”
“Thank you,” Christian says as he ends the recording.
Police eventually responded to the call, and a New York Police Department spokesperson said they determined the two had “engaged in a verbal dispute.” No arrests were made and no summonses were issued.
Christian Cooper Speaks Out
The video prompted a ton of outrage from people calling Amy a racist and demanding consequence since she was the one knowingly breaking rules.
Others were frustrated by her claim that Christain was threatening her life, especially given the history of unjust treatment black people have faced at the hands of police and civilians.
This morning, even NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio called her behavior, “racism, plain and simple.”
Christian later explained his actions to NBC News saying, “If the habitat is destroyed we won’t be able to go there to see the birds, to enjoy the plantings.”
He made a similar comment to CNN, adding, “People spend a lot of money and time planting in those areas as well. Nothing grows in a dog run for a reason.”
As far as why he decided to record the incident, he said he thought to himself, “I’m not going to participate in my own dehumanization. I’m not going to feed into this.”
“We live in an age of Ahmaud Arbery where black men are gunned down because of assumptions people make about black men, black people, and I’m just not going to participate in that,” he added.
Amy Cooper Faces Consequences
While Christian has been met with a ton of support online, Amy told CNN that her “entire life is being destroyed right now.”
Her employer, the investment management company Franklin Templeton, eventually caught wind of what happened. They issued a statement on Monday saying they do not condone racism, adding that Amy was placed on administrated leave.
By Tuesday morning, the company said it decided to terminate her effective immediately.
On top of that, Amy faced a slew of criticism for how she treated her dog in the video. Then people starting digging into her past and allegedly found other instances of her dog suffering injuries through unrelated incidents.
Seems like a lot of accidents/incidents for one dog with this one owner. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy in Pets? pic.twitter.com/Zt6cqiarYi— 🌍Sheel (@Sheel68) May 26, 2020
Then late Monday, the Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue issued a statement saying that Amy had “voluntarily surrendered the dog” back into its care after adopting it a few years ago. The rescue center also stressed that the dog was safe and in good health.
As far as apologizes go, Amy told CNN that she wanted to “publicly apologize to everyone.”
She told the outlet, “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” and added that she also didn’t mean any harm to the African American community.
That apology was met with backlash from people like City Councilman Mark Levine. He called her response “totally inadequate,” and said it, “Reflects no acknowledgment that she made a false accusation nor that she was attempting to weaponize the race of Mr. Cooper.”
However, this isn’t the only apology Amy gave. She also issued another statement to NBC News saying: “I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family. 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.”
“When I think about the police, I’m such a blessed person. I’ve come to realize especially today that I think of [the police] as a protection agency, and unfortunately, this has caused me to realize that there are so many people in this country that don’t have that luxury.”
When CNN asked Christian if he accepts her apology and he said, “…if it’s genuine and if she plans on keeping her dog on a leash in the Ramble going forward, then we have no issues with each other.”
Though Christian might be willing to move forward, plenty of people online have continued to go after Amy and are not satisfied with the repercussions she’s faced so far.
See what others are saying: (NBC New York) (Pix 11) (CNN)
San Francisco Lawmaker Proposes CAREN Act to Make False, Racist 911 Calls Illegal
- San Francisco City Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced an ordinance this week called the CAREN Act, which would make false, racially discriminatory 911 calls illegal.
- The acronym stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies. It is named after “Karens,” a nickname for white women who throw unwarranted fits in public.
- These fits often appear racially motivated and have led to “Karens” calling the police on people of color.
- California Assemblyman Rob Bonta has also introduced a similar piece of legislation that would outlaw these calls throughout the state.
Why the “CAREN” Act?
A lawmaker in San Francisco has introduced an ordinance that would outlaw making false, racially discriminatory 911 calls, dubbed the CAREN Act.
City Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced the ordinance. In a tweet announcing the act on Tuesday, he called racist 911 calls “unacceptable.”
The CAREN Act stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies, but its name bears much more weight. A “Karen” is an Internet nickname for white women whose privilege and entitlement leads to loud complaints, threats of legal action, calling supervisors, and often, calling the police. The unjustified outrage of Karens has been documented in countless viral incidents, and in many cases, they show a clear prejudice against people of color.
One video that went viral in May has been pointed to as a prime example of this. In that clip, Amy Cooper, a white woman in New York, called the police on a Black man named Christian Cooper. Both were in Central park at the time when the man asked her to put her dog on a leash, as she was required to do in that area.
However, that confrontation escalated when she desperately told a 911 operator that she was being threatened when she was not. Many felt her instinct to weaponize her white privilege and make a false claim could have had serious consequences considering the fact that Black Americans are more likely to face police brutality and die in police custody. She has since been charged with filing a false report after much public outrage.
While videos of this nature have often gone viral, this incident came at a cultural tipping point. Not long after it made its way across the Internet, another story received national attention: a video of George Floyd being killed by police officers in Minneapolis. This sparked a movement of people confronting systemic racism and police brutality, and since then, more “Karen” videos have spread online in an effort to hold people accountable for their racist behavior.
What the Ordinance Does
While filing a false police report is already illegal, Walton is pushing for more to be done to stop people from calling the authorities on people of color for no real reason. The CAREN Act would make it illegal to fabricate a report based on racial and other kinds of discrimination.
“Within the last month and a half in the Bay Area, an individual called the police on a Black man who was dancing and exercising on the street in his Alameda neighborhood and a couple called the police on a Filipino man stenciling ‘Black Lives Matter’ in chalk in front of his own residence in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights,” he said in a statement.
This is not the only proposal of its kind. California Assemblyman Rob Bonta has introduced a similar ordinance. His proposed legislation, AB 1150, would make state that “discriminatory 911 calls qualify as a hate crime, and further establish civil liability for the person who discriminatorily called 911.”
“AB 1550, when amended, will impose serious consequences on those who make 911 calls that are motivated by hate and bigotry; actions that inherently cause harm and pain to others,” Bonta said in a statement. “This bill is incredibly important to upholding our values and ensuring the safety of all Californians.”
Catholic Church Granted at Least $1.4 Billion in PPP Loans
- An analysis from the Associated Press found that the Catholic Church received at least between $1.4 and $3.5 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid.
- The report identified 3,500 loans the Church received from the Paycheck Protection Program, but leaders have previously stated that as many as 9,000 bodies of the Church received funding.
- However, government data only shared who received loans over $150,000. Smaller churches that received under that amount were not on the list, meaning the Catholic Church could have collected even more than records show.
- Usually, religious groups would not be eligible for funding from the Small Business Administration, but the Church allegedly spent a good chunk of money lobbying so that there would be an exception for the PPP.
Catholic Church Receives Billions in PPP Funds
While houses of worship and religious organizations are usually ineligible for federal aid from the Small Business Administration, an exception was made for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed to keep American businesses afloat as the pandemic shut the country down.
The AP found records of 3,500 forgivable loans for Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools, and other ministries. That number, however, is likely higher.
The Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference has claimed that 9,000 Catholic bodies received loans. Government data only shared loans over $150,000, so smaller churches who got less were not on the list, meaning the Church may have pocketed even more than $3.5 billion.
“The government grants special dispensation, and that creates a kind of structural favoritism,” Micah Schwartzman, a University of Virginia law professor told the AP. “And that favoritism was worth billions of dollars.”
According to the AP, the Archdiocese of New York received $28 million just for executive offices. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City received $1 million. Diocesan officials in Orange County, California received four loans worth $3 million. The AP’s analysis suggests that the Catholic Church and its entities were able to retain 407,900 jobs with this loan money.
“These loans are an essential lifeline to help faith-based organizations to stay afloat and continue serving those in need during this crisis,” spokesperson Chieko Noguchi told the AP.
How Did the Church Get Aid?
Like many businesses throughout the country, churches had to shut their doors as large gatherings became unsafe as the coronavirus’ spread continued. Masses were canceled or moved online and celebrations for the Easter holidays were dropped, causing the Church to to fall behind financially.
While its global net worth is not known, the Catholic Church is considered the wealthiest religious organization in the world. It is also one of the most powerful groups of any kind, with an estimated 1.2 billion followers all over the planet. According to the AP, its deep pockets and far-reaching influence helped it receive federal aid.
The Catholic Church lobbied heavily to make sure religious groups were allowed to receive money from the PPP, the AP says. Their report found that the Los Angeles archdiocese spent $20,000 lobbying Congress to include “eligibility for non-profits” in the CARES Act, the legislation that formed the PPP. Records also show that Catholic Charities USA spent another $30,000 in CARES Act lobbying.
With its wealth and power, the Catholic Church is also plagued with controversy and scandal. For years, there have been reports that the Church has covered up for priests and other leaders who have been accused of sexual abuse. Many entities of the church have had to shell out large sums of money in legal fees and settlements.
The AP found that around 40 of the dioceses that have paid out “hundreds of millions of dollars” to related compensation funds or bankruptcy proceedings received loans. These loans totaled at least $200 million.
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Business Insider) (Market Watch)
Employers Can Opt-Out of Birth Control Coverage, SCOTUS Rules
- In a Wednesday ruling, the Supreme Court decided 7-2 that employers can opt-out of birth control coverage on religious grounds.
- Under the Affordable Care Act, employers have been required to cover cost-free contraception to their employees. Exceptions had initially been made to houses of worship, but a 2018 Trump Administration rule expanded that to include most employers, ranging from large public businesses to universities.
- The court sided with Trump, ruling that his administration had the authority to provide religious exemptions.
- Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor cast the two dissenting votes, claiming it could harm healthcare access for women in the workforce.
The Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration on Wednesday morning, ruling that employers can opt-out of providing birth control coverage on religious and moral grounds
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers have been required to cover cost-free contraception to their employees, though exemptions were made for houses of worship who could refuse for religious reasons. Exemptions grew in 2014 when Hobby Lobby won a Supreme Court case ruling that certain closely held corporations, like family businesses, could also refuse birth control coverage if it contradicted their religious beliefs.
Wednesday’s ruling pertained to a 2018 Trump administration policy that would allow most employers – ranging from small private businesses, to universities, to large public companies – to opt-out of contraception coverage for religious reasons. That rule was challenged by the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which claimed they would have to cover contraception costs to those who lost coverage under the Trump administration.
The court’s decision responded to two cases: Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania and Trump v. Pennsylvania. In a 7-2 ruling, they sided with Trump. The two dissenting votes came from Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.
Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the opinion, said that the Trump administration “had the authority to provide exemptions from the regulatory contraceptive requirements for employers with religious and conscientious objections.”
“It is clear from the face of the statute that the contraceptive mandate is capable of violating the [Religious Freedom Restoration Act],” he added.
Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote a concurring opinion, claimed that the administration was “required by RFRA to create the religious exemption (or something very close to it).”
This could leave as many as 126,000 women without access to contraception within a year. According to Planned Parenthood, nine out of ten women will seek access to contraception at some point in their lives. While birth control is often used as a contraceptive, it is also used for a variety of other health reasons, including regulating menstrual cycles, lowering risks for various forms of cancer, and managing migraines, endometriosis and other ailments.
“This Court leaves women workers to fend for themselves, to seek contraceptive coverage from sources other than their employer’s insurer, and, absent another available source of funding, to pay for contraceptive services out of their own pockets,” Ginsberg wrote in the dissent.
Ginsberg claimed that the court’s usually balanced approach of not allowing “the religious beliefs of some to overwhelm the rights and interests of others who do not share those beliefs” was thrown away.
“Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests,” she added.
Responses to Ruling
She was not alone in critiquing the rulings. The National Women’s Law Center called it “invasive, archaic, and dangerous.” The Center fears the ruling could have a larger impact on low wage workers, people of color, and LGBTQ people.
Dr. Daniel Grossman, the head of a research group at the University of California, San Francisco called Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health also condemned the decision.
“No employer is welcome into the exam room when I talk to patients about their contraception options, why should they be able to dictate the method from their corner office?” he asked.
On the other side, Tony Perkins, the President of the Family Research Council applauded the Supreme Court.
“It should be common sense to allow a religious group to conduct themselves according to their religious convictions, and yet government agents have tried to punish them with obtuse fines for doing just that,” Perkins said in a statement. “We are pleased to see the Supreme Court still recognizes religious freedom.”