Christian Cooper says he had his phone out to record a white woman breaking the rules in a leashed area in New York City’s Central Park.
After a brief argument about being recorded, the woman pulled out her own phone and called the police on Cooper, who is Black.
“I’m gonna tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she tells him in the now-viral video, which was posted online by Cooper’s sister on Monday.
The woman can then seen making the call and repeatedly claiming that she is being “threatened by a man in the Ramble!” She yanks her dog around by its collar throughout the 66-second video.
Christian Cooper makes no comments or moves toward the woman in the video, which escalates quickly from the first argument to the phone call in less than a minute. Cooper says he recorded the whole thing because she was flagrantly ignoring the leash rule in Central Park’s Ramble, an area popular for bird-watching.
The video has ignited fury on social media, where many have accused the woman, Amy Cooper, of blatant racism while calling for her to be fired from her job at Franklin Templeton Investments. Some have also called for her to be booted out of the United Statesafter evidence on her now-deleted LinkedIn profile suggests she might be Canadian.
The incident has also dredged up memories of the infamous Central Park Five incident, a case from 1989 in which five young Black boys were falsely accused and convicted of raping a white jogger.
“The video out of Central Park is racism, plain and simple,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted on Tuesday morning, in a message denouncing the incident. “She called the police BECAUSE he was a Black man. Even though she was the one breaking the rules. She decided he was the criminal and we know why.”
“That white woman tone of voice is exactly … the sound they make to call the hounds of hell on you,” author Tressie McMillan Cottom wrote on Twitter. “Made me want to vomit.”
Another user called it a case of someone using “white fragility as both a sword and shield.”