‘Central Park Karen’ who called police on Black birdwatcher still ‘in hiding’

Amy Cooper claims she received an ‘avalanche of hate and death threats’ following incident in May 2020

Mike Bedigan
Los Angeles
Wednesday 08 November 2023 02:00 GMT
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Charges Against Amy Cooper Dropped

A woman dubbed the “Central Park Karen” online after calling the police on a Black birdwatcher, says she is still “in hiding” more than three years after the incident.

Amy Cooper said that she had received an “avalanche of hate and death threats” following the incident in May 2020, and even now was “scared to be in public” and struggles to find employment.

A video of the incident showed Ms Cooper on the phone to police, telling them she was being “threatened” by an “African American man” while she was out walking her dog in New York’s Central Park.

The footage quickly went viral after it was posted by the man, Christian Cooper – no relation – and Ms Cooper was given the online nickname “Central Park Karen”.

Amy Cooper was captured on video calling the police on a black birdwatcher in Central Park
Amy Cooper was captured on video calling the police on a black birdwatcher in Central Park (Christian Cooper)

“Karen” is a pejorative term, mostly used to describe outspoken women who are usually white.

In an op-ed written for Newsweek, Ms Cooper recalled the incident and said after the video had been posted online that “my life, as I knew it, was over”.

“My employer fired me the day after the incident without ever taking the time to learn the facts. Clearly in survival mode, my company released a strong statement distancing itself from me, effectively blacklisting my career,” she wrote.

“In a frantic and desperate attempt to stop the avalanche of hate and death threats, I issued a public apology at the recommendation of a PR company. But it did nothing. I was forced into hiding.

“Over three years later, I am still in hiding. I am scared to be in public. I still can’t get a job that meets my qualifications. And there have been long stretches of unemployment. All leading to thoughts of self-harm.”

The incident occurred on the same day that George Floyd – a black man – was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis, sparking a national reckoning in the US over racism.

Ms Cooper said that there were “never any racial implications to my words” and that she had “only reported exactly what happened to me that day” to the police. She also said that she had been contacted by other people in Central Park who had also been “threatened” by Mr Cooper.

Ms Cooper lost her job as a result of the incident
Ms Cooper lost her job as a result of the incident (Christian Cooper)

“I was terrified and traumatised,” she wrote. “Even now, when I think about it three years later, the fear quickly wells up in me again.

“I also don’t know why the whole truth was never printed or reported. I can only assume that no one—not even the top-tier media outlets—felt safe from the unrelenting, unforgiving weight of cancel culture. I know that’s why I feared telling my own story for so many years.

“There is no such thing as a ‘Karen.’ We are all just people. Each of us deserving grace and forgiveness. In the end, silencing the truth, the full story, hurts all of us.”

Ms Cooper also added that she had attempted to connect with Mr Cooper directly but had never heard back from him.

“Despite what I’ve endured, I would always be open to an honest, productive conversation,” she wrote.

A footnote to Ms Cooper’s op-ed notes that she currently resides “in an undisclosed location after being at the center of a media firestorm after being dubbed the ‘Central Park Karen’.”

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