A white woman who called the police after a black man asked her to put her dog on a leash in New York City’s Central Park has been fired from her job with an investment firm.
Franklin Templeton announced on Twitter on Tuesday it had sacked an employee, “effective immediately”.
“We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton,” the tweet said.
Christian Cooper, a bird watcher, asked the woman to leash her dog because he feared it could endanger wildlife.
Mr Cooper and the woman, identified as Amy Cooper (no relation) were in a part of Central Park called the Ramble, a popular area for bird watchers where dogs must be leashed at all times, according to the rules.
Mr Cooper said their exchange began when he noticed Ms Cooper’s dog “tearing through the plantings” in the area.
“Ma’am, dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times. The sign is right there,” Mr Cooper said he told her, but she refused to restrain her dog.
When he began filming, Ms Cooper told him she would phone police and tell them “there’s an African-American man threatening my life”.
She then called the emergency operator and repeated, “He’s African-American”, before pleading for them to send an officer.
A video filmed by Mr Cooper and posted on social media went viral on Monday, drawing tens of millions of views and prompting discussions about the high number of killings of black men by police in the US.
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
Ms Cooper later apologised, saying she had “overreacted”. “I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family,” she told NBC News.
Ms Cooper also faced accusations of animal cruelty, after she appeared to choke the animal with its leash while restraining it to call the police. After the video went viral she returned the dog to a shelter.
“The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health,” the organisation wrote on Facebook.
Her now-deleted LinkedIn and Instagram profiles suggested she might be Canadian.
Franklin Templeton initially suspended Ms Cooper while it investigated the incident, before announcing her sacking.
Speaking to NBC News, Mr Cooper raised the recent high-profile shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was out jogging when he was killed by two white men two in February.
“We live in an age of Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are gunned down because of assumptions people make about black men, black people, and I’m just not going to participate in that,” he said.