Central Park "Karen" facing criminal charges. We're getting a little carried away here

Amy Cooper, now better known to the world as the “Central Park Karen,” appears to have even more trouble coming her way. After becoming a national symbol of… something, Cooper was widely derided for her reaction to a Black man who was reportedly in the park doing some bird watching after he asked her to put her dog on its leash. She went viral for all the wrong reasons and was promptly targeted for cancellation by the left. But her problems aren’t over yet. Since one part of her response involved calling 911 on the birdwatcher, the Manhattan DA is filing charges against her for abusing the emergency reporting system and Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree. (NY Post)


The Manhattan DA announced Monday his office is prosecuting Amy Cooper for calling the cops on a black man in Central Park and falsely claiming he had threatened her after he’d asked her to leash her dog.

“Today our Office initiated a prosecution of Amy Cooper for Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree,” said DA Cy Vance Jr. in a statement. “We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio was quick to jump on the bandwagon and support this effort at prosecution.

Before the cancel culture mob begins cheering too loudly, I’m going to point out that this may wind up backfiring on them big time. Admittedly, it’s pretty hard to turn this “Karen” into a sympathetic figure, but the tides of events may wind up doing just that.

From the beginning, anyone who watched the video of Cooper’s initial encounter with the birdwatcher (also named Cooper… no relation) likely saw a fairly cut and dry case of a massive overreaction to a random encounter with obvious racial overtones. The video actually begins well after the initial interaction began (more on that in a moment), but Ms. Cooper can be seen (and heard) demanding that the birdwatcher stop filming her. She approaches him while demanding that he get away from her. She threatens to call the cops, specifying that it’s “an African-American man threatening me and my dog.” Yeesh.


The woman has paid a price for her behavior already. Cooper subsequently lost her job. She became the butt of endless jokes in every media outlet, on the late-night shows, and across the web. While the brouhaha will eventually fade away, her life has pretty much been ruined, at least for the time being.

But now the story is shifting gears in what may prove to be an unpredictable way for two different reasons. The first is the nature of the charges the DA is trying to bring. Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree is part of New York Penal Law 40.50. That statute makes it a crime to falsely initiate or circulate a report or warning of an alleged occurrence or impending occurrence of a crime, catastrophe or emergency. But the law specifies that the person must be doing so while “knowing the information reported, conveyed or circulated to be false or baseless.”

Was she truly in any danger from the birdwatcher? It seems highly unlikely. But go back and watch the video again if you haven’t seen it in a while. The woman was clearly scared out of her wits and was freaking out. Why? Perhaps it’s just because she’s such a racist that the mere sight of a Black man in the park sent her into fits. Or perhaps not. As I mentioned above, the video only begins when she is approaching Mr. Cooper and demanding he stop recording her. Prior to that, there was some sort of confrontation, allegedly over her failure to keep her dog on a leash. What was said and done during that portion of the encounter? We don’t know and we only have the testimony of the two participants to go by. The birdwatching Cooper supposedly claimed to have dog treats that he kept on hand for just such occasions and threatened to “lure the dog away.”


It seems to me that a fairly competent defense attorney should be able to make the case that Amy Cooper, rightly or wrongly, honestly believed that the birdwatcher was a threat to her or her dog. And if that’s the case, proving she filed the report while “knowing the information to be false” could be extremely hard to prove.

On top of that, this case would still have to pass the smell test for a jury. And at this point, people may be tiring of the sport of dunking on Amy Cooper. At the New York Post, columnist Libby Emmons is no fan of this Karen but also feels that she’s suffered enough.

Bird-watching Cooper, filming the encounter, knew he’d have the Internet on his side. Amy Cooper believed the cops would be on hers. It was a stand-off, and she lost. At any other time, the whole fight might have blown over. But it happened the morning of May 25, the same day George Floyd was killed while in Minneapolis police custody.

In the racial reckoning that followed, no Karen can be spared.

Criminals were released from prison this spring in an attempt to staunch the spread of COVID-19. Bail reform was enacted that allowed repeat offenders to walk free without consequence or remand. Violent crimes, murders and gun violence are rising across the city. Yet a woman who was fired from investment firm Franklin Templeton after this incident, who was denounced by politicians, is facing jail — for getting into a dispute over a leashed dog.

She’s already been punished. Leave the poor Karen alone.

Kicking this Karen around was an amusing sport for many in the days and weeks after the encounter. But I get the sense that a lot of New Yorkers will be swinging further toward the attitude on display in the op-ed I just quoted. New Yorkers have no issue with engaging in some good old fashioned mean-spirited fun. But if it begins to look like Amy Cooper is being set up for some massively overreaching punishment over what should have been a passing spat between neighbors in the park, the public is going to start pushing back.


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David Strom 8:00 AM | July 25, 2024