- 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)
Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”
- Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot.
- So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.
Florida Requires Proof of Residency
Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.
Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it.
According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.
Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers.
Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited
Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north.
“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”
See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)
Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”
- Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
- Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
- Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.
Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017.
Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony.
“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”
Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.
“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”
What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”
Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing.
“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”
“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”
Nation Impressed by Gorman
“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”
Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration.
Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation.
Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day.
See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)
SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section
- The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June.
- The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
- Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary.
- It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.
College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay
College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.
Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”
The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary.
While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S.
Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.
With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.
The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test
In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.
In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.
According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.
For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April.