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Amy Cooper, Who Called Police On Black Birdwatcher In Central Park, Sues Ex-Employer, Claims Racial Discimination

Franklin Templeton “discriminated” against Amy Cooper on the “basis of her race” by firing her after she called police on Christian Cooper in an incident that quickly went viral, according to a new civil lawsuit.

By Dorian Geiger
Central Park Woman Called Cops On Black Birdwatcher Twice

Amy Cooper, the New York woman who drew international ire after calling police on a Black birdwatcher in Central Park last year, is suing her former employer for racial discrimination.

Cooper has filed a civil suit against wealth management firm Franklin Templeton for firing her the day after a video clip of her calling the police on birdwatcher Christian Cooper went viral.

Amy Cooper, who frantically told 911 dispatchers that an “African American man” was threatening her as she walked her dog last spring, was subsequently dubbed “Central Park Karen” by New York tabloids. Video that Christian Cooper recorded showed him simply requesting that she leash her dog, in accordance with park rules. She was swiftly fired by Franklin Templeton.

Amy Cooper, however, is now suing the holding company for allegedly discriminating against her “on the basis of her race,” as well as failing to conduct a thorough investigation of the confrontation in advance of her termination, according to a copy of the lawsuit, which Oxygen.com obtained. The lawsuit was filed on May 25, the one-year anniversary of the altercation.

Amy Cooper, the lawsuit alleges, was targeted by “overzealous birdwatcher” Christian Cooper in an ongoing feud between Central Park’s birdwatchers and dog-owners. She flatly denied the skirmish was racially charged.

"Even a perfunctory investigation would have shown that Plaintiff did not shout at Christian Cooper or call the police from Central Park on May 25, 2020, because she was a racist,” the civil suit stated. “She did these things because she was alone in the park and frightened to death after being selected as the next target of Christian Cooper, an overzealous birdwatcher engaged in Central Park’s ongoing feud between birdwatchers and dog owners.”

Christian Cooper

The lawsuit's characterization of Christian Cooper appears to fly in the face of previous apologies Amy Cooper issued in the wake of the incident. 

“He had every right to request that I leash my dog in an area where it was required,” she said of Christian in a written statement released by a public relations firm last May, according to NBC New York. “I am well aware of the pain that misassumptions and insensitive statements about race cause and would never have imagined that I would be involved in the type of incident that occurred with Chris.”

She also told NBC New York in a phone interview at around the same time that "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."

On May 26, 2020, Franklin Templeton announced Amy Cooper’s termination on Twitter.

“We do not tolerate racism of any kind,” Franklin Templeton wrote in a statement.

The tweet, which has received more than 277,000 likes, added to Cooper’s image as a "privileged white female ‘Karen,'” the lawsuit stated. The suit also claimed that Franklin Templeton’s public termination of Cooper “provided legitimacy to the ‘Karen’ story, and appeared to provide justification for those who sought the destruction of the Plaintiff’s life.”

“The Defendants discriminated against the Plaintiff on the basis of her race," the lawsuit added.

Cooper is seeking unspecified damages for defamation, negligence, and emotional distress.

Franklin Templeton fired back this week, however, calling the civil suit “baseless.”

“We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the Company responded appropriately,” a spokesperson for Franklin Templeton told Oxygen.com in a statement on Thursday. “We will defend against these baseless claims.”

Cooper was previously charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office with falsely reporting an incident. In February, however, prosecutors dismissed the charges after Cooper underwent therapy.

“Having completed five sessions, Ms. Cooper’s therapist reported that it was a moving experience and that Ms. Cooper learned a lot in their sessions together,” Manhattan assistant district attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said.

Amy Cooper didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment regarding the civil lawsuit on Thursday.