Central Park incident leads to call for hate crime legislation

May 29, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Central Park incident leads to call for hate crime legislation
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A viral video of a woman calling 911 in Central Park after a man told her to put her dog on a leash has elected officials eager to make a change.

Assemblymember Felix Ortiz is attempting to enact a bill to designate falsely reporting an incident based on race as a hate crime in New York State.

“How many more incidents like the one we witnessed this past weekend where someone calls the police on a black man to falsely claim he was committing a crime and threatening them before we take action,” Ortiz said. “These incidents are not only racist and shameful but serious and dangerous to all involved. Too often, these incidents end in tragedy and we must take action to stop them from happening.”

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The legislation would designate falsely reporting an incident because of race, ethnicity, religion, race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation as hate crimes in New York State. It is currently pending in committee in the Assembly and awaiting a Senate sponsor.

Christian Cooper was watching birds in the Ramble in Central Park when he saw Amy Cooper

let her dog off its leash. Christian claims he asked Amy to put the dog back on the leash since it’s against park rules.

According to the Associated Press, he claimed in a Facebook post that the dog was “tearing through the plantings” and told her she should go to another part of the park. When she refused, he pulled out dog treats, causing her to scream at him to not come near her dog.

Christian filmed Amy with his cellphone and she warned him she would summon police unless he stopped recording.

“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says in the video.

Christian responds by saying, “Please call the cops.”

She then called the police and said, “There’s an African American man. I’m in Central Park. He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog. Please send the cops immediately!”

“When police are called believing they are responding to a violent attack or the alleged perpetrator is armed, there is a strong possibility that someone is going to be injured or killed,” Ortiz said. “When the incident is based on hate and racist beliefs, it makes the incident even more horrific. The time has come to send a message that these incidents will be considered hate crimes and they will be punished like all other hate crimes.”

Despite a written apology, Amy has been fired from her job, the AP reported.

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