The woman known as “Central Park Karen” is no longer facing charges of filing a false police report after she completed a series of “racial bias training” sessions.
Amy Cooper, who was captured on video threatening to call police on a black birdwatcher in New York City’s Central Park could have faced up to a year in prison for the single misdemeanor charge of “falsely reporting an incident” according to the New York Times, but Monday, a judge granted city prosecutors’ request to drop the charges after Cooper completed “a therapeutic educational program that included instruction about racial biases.”
The five-part program is “designed for introspection and progress,” Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said at a hearing Tuesday.
“They sent her to Critical Therapy Center, who provided psychoeducation and therapy services which focused on the ways in which Ms. Cooper could appreciate that racial identities shape our lives but we cannot use them to harm ourselves or others,” Illuzzi-Orbon told the judge. “Psychoeducation about racial equality is woven into each therapy session to prompt understanding and reflection.”
Illuzzi-Orbon said that Cooper’s therapist called the sessions “a moving experience” and certified that Cooper “learned a lot” through the program.
“Ms. Cooper had been offered the program, part of an alternative solution that falls under the rubric of restorative justice, partially based on her lack of criminal background, Ms. Illuzzi-Orbon said,” per the Times. “Restorative justice, an alternative to traditional prosecution, looks at the harm done and implements a process for reconciliation among the parties involved, including the offender, the victim, and the community.”
In Cooper’s case, the program reportedly focused on eliminating her unconscious racial biases.
As the Daily Wire reported back in May, Cooper was caught on video threatening a black birdwatcher who asked her to put her dog back on a leash. The incident, which happened around the same time as national anti-racism protests over the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department, went viral and became emblematic of the “institutionalized racism” issues demonstrators were trying to address.
“Amy Cooper told Christian Cooper that she planned to tell police that ‘there’s an African American man threatening my life,’ potentially putting Christopher in danger of police brutality. In the video, Christian responds, ‘Please tell them whatever you like,’” the Daily Wire noted.
“There is an African American man. I am in Central Park. He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog,” Cooper could be heard reporting to the dispatcher, according to the report. “I’m sorry, I can’t hear … I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble, please send the cops immediately.”
Cooper was quickly labeled “racist” by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, fired from her job, and charged with the misdemeanor reporting offense.
“Today our office initiated prosecution of Amy Cooper,” New York City prosecutors said in a statement at the time. “Our office will provide the public with additional information as the case proceeds. At this time I would like to encourage anyone who has been the target of false reporting to contact our office. We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable.”
“False reporting” is listed as “a class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in jail, three years on probation, or a $1,000 fine” in the New York City penal code.
The man Cooper allegedly threatened, Christopher Cooper, told media last summer that he’d prefer Ms. Cooper’s life not be “torn apart” told the New York Times that he would prefer Americans move on from the incident to bigger issues of racial justice.
“I am far more outraged by the U.S. Congress, which continues to deny the mostly Black and brown people of the District of Columbia statehood, and the representation every American deserves, than by anything Amy Cooper did,” he said. “That gross racial injustice could be fixed by Congress now, today, and that is what people should be focused on, not last year’s events in Central Park.”
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