Amy Cooper — the Central Park "Karen" who called the police on a Black birdwatcher named Christian Cooper and falsely accused him of threatening her — has apparently learned nothing in the past year. Cooper, a white woman, is now suing her former employer for firing her over the racist incident, and she’s arguing that she is a victim of racial discrimination. Yes, really.
Ms. Cooper filed the lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday against financial services firm Franklin Templeton, the firm's CEO Jenny Johnson, and unnamed employees. The suit claims she was not properly (properly) fired and also alleges that Franklin Templeton didn’t adequately investigate claims that her call to the police was racially motivated, which she has repeatedly denied.
"The Defendants' announcements to the effect that they had conducted an investigation, and that the investigation concluded indisputably that the Plaintiff was a racist when Defendants knew they had not conducted an investigation which concluded indisputably that the Plaintiff was a racist, was extreme and outrageous," the suit claims.
But a video of the May 2020 incident paints a different picture. The video shows Christian Cooper asking Amy Cooper (the two are not related) to put a leash on her dog, per the park rules. Ms. Cooper refused and threatened to call the police. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she said.
Following the incident, Mr. Cooper declined to participate in the investigation into the incident, instead writing in an op-ed for The Washington Post that it was important to centre the systemic racism that led to the encounter. In the end, Ms. Cooper was cleared of misdemeanour charges and instead attended a restorative justice program “designed not just to punish but to educate and promote community healing,” said Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi. However, it would appear that Ms. Cooper has learned nothing from the program about accountability and repairing harm.
Ms. Cooper’s complaint against her former employer claims that the company did not adequately investigate the incident. If it had, the investigation would have shown that she did not yell at Christian Cooper “because she was a racist,” but because “she was alone in the park and frightened to death,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also claims that Franklin Templeton’s statements describing Ms. Cooper’s actions as racist were defamatory. As such, Cooper seeks lost pay, and emotional and punitive damages.
But civil rights experts say the case has no grounds and called it inappropriate, adding that Ms. Cooper’s lawsuit does nothing to connect her former employer’s actions to racial discrimination. “I think it’s frankly inappropriate to hijack civil rights statutes with these kinds of claims,” Damon T. Hewitt, the executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told The New York Times. “I’m not going to say a white person can never face discrimination. I would not say that. But in this instance, there just seems to be no claim at all.”