The Bird Watcher, That Incident and His Conflicted Feelings on Her Fate

Christian Cooper displays a video recording of Amy Cooper (no relation) on his smartphone in New York’s Central Park on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (Brittainy Newman/The New York Times)NEW YORK — His binoculars around his neck, Christian Cooper, an avid birder, was back in his happy place on Wednesday: Central Park during migration season. He was trying to focus on the olive-sided flycatchers and red-bellied woodpeckers — not on what had happened there two days earlier.That was when Cooper, who is black, asked a white woman to put her dog on a leash. When she did not, he began filming. In response, the woman said she would tell the police that “an African American man is threatening my life” before dialing 911.On Tuesday, the video went viral on Twitter and garnered more than 40 million views, setting off a painful discourse about the history of dangerous false accusations against black people made to police.The birds were a welcome distraction from thinking about what had happened next: By that day’s end, the woman, Amy Cooper (no relation) had surrendered her dog and had been fired from her high-level finance job. As he wandered the park’s North Woods on Wednesday shortly after dawn, Christian Cooper said he felt exhausted, exposed and profoundly conflicted, particularly about her fate.“Any of us can make — not necessarily a racist mistake, but a mistake,” he said, “And to get that kind of tidal wave in such a compressed period of time, it’s got to hurt. It’s got to hurt.”A gray catbird dart
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