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Woman who rose to infamy after threatening Black bird-watcher in Central Park loses lawsuit against former employer


This May 25, 2020, file image, taken from video provided by Christian Cooper, shows Amy Cooper with her dog calling police at Central Park in New York. Amy Cooper, the white woman who called 911 on Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper in the park, sued her former employer for firing her over the incident. (Christian Cooper via AP, File)

The white woman who threatened a Black man with calling the police after he demanded she leash her dog in a wooded area of New York’s Central Park has lost her appeal to get her old job back.

Amy Cooper launched to infamy in May of 2020 when she was seen on video threatening to call the police and “tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” The person taking that video was Christian Cooper (no relation), a Black bird-watcher who had told Amy Cooper — correctly — that she was required to leash her dog in that part of the park at all times. At no time in the video did Christian Cooper threaten Amy Cooper’s life.

The video quickly became a flashpoint: Criminal charges were filed (and later dropped), and investment firm Franklin Templeton announced that it had fired Amy Cooper, who had worked as a portfolio manager, within a matter of days.

Amy Cooper sued in May 2021, alleging employment discrimination based on race and sex, as well as defamation. Unsurprisingly, a federal district court in New York dismissed her complaint.

She appealed, and on Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal.

Amy Cooper’s allegation that her one-time employer “implicated” her race “with each of [their] communications to the public, by repeatedly connecting [their] stated stance against racism with their termination of the Plaintiff,” fails as a matter of law, the court found.

“Defendants’ statements made no mention of Plaintiff’s race, and even to the extent they could be read as accusing Plaintiff of being a racist, ‘a statement that someone is a “racist,”‘ while potentially indicating unfair dislike, does not indicate that the object of the statement is being rejected because of h[er] race,'” the judges wrote (citations omitted). “‘Racism’ is not a race, and discrimination on the basis of alleged racism is not the same as discrimination on the basis of race.”

The court similarly found that Amy Cooper’s defamation claims didn’t hold up.

“To the extent that Defendants’ statements are read as accusing Plaintiff of being a racist, the reasonable reader would have understood this to be an expression of opinion based on the widely circulated video of Plaintiff’s encounter with Christian Cooper,” the ruling said.

Franklin Templeton

Lawyers for Amy Cooper didn’t immediately respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment.

Read the Second Circuit’s ruling below.

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