The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.
Tuesday morning, I woke up to a text from my dad: ”After watching your great interview yesterday (great job by the way) we wake to add another name to the list. This is waaay out of hand. This cop has to be charged.”
The text was referencing a Facebook Live conversation I had Monday morning with attorney Areva Martin. We were talking about being a black male journalist, covering these stories of black men being murdered before our eyes, and what it feels like, something I’ve written about for REVOLT before.
I went to Twitter to see what he was talking about and first got to the trending topic of Amy Cooper. Amy is a white woman in New York City who took her dog out to Rumble Park without a leash, violating the park’s policy.
A black man, Christian Cooper (no relation), spotted the dog reportedly tearing through the plants in the park where Christian was a frequent birdwatcher. He addressed the woman — the manner of which is in dispute between the two — telling Amy that her unleashed dog was in violation of the park’s policy. He was asking her to put the dog on the leash.
One way or another — again because their stories conflict regarding the tone of the interaction — Christian pulled out his phone and began recording Amy shouting at him. She’s walking toward him, dragging her dog by the collar and telling him to stop recording her. He asks her to not come toward her, she continues and begins threatening to call the police.
Fed up that he’s still recording, she offers just how she plans to frame her threat to Christian for optimal response from the police:
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” she says while dialing the phone call.
While on the phone, she repeatedly tells the operator that she’s being recorded and threatened by an African-American man. She is further and further away from Christian, however, each time she says it, her voice is more and more urgent. The third time she’s nearly shrieking for her life, begging for police to assist her.
All the while she’s holding her small dog by the collar, basically strangling it. The dog is jumping around, scratching at her, trying to get her attention, but she’s insistent that the black man recording her is the threat.
After the shrieking plea, Amy finally reaches down to put her dog on a leash because she’s trying to get it under control to finish her phone call. At the moment she leashes the dog, Christian says “thank you,” ending the video.
Later the same Monday in Minneapolis, police arrested George Floyd, a black man in his 40s, saying he fit the description of a man involved in a forgery case. A non-violent crime.
Police say Floyd was in a vehicle and allegedly intoxicated. When he allegedly resisted the arrest, cops got Floyd to the ground and were successful in arresting him.
A small crowd of people can be heard on video after some began filming the arrest encounter, showing a yet-unidentified officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck. The officer has Floyd pinned to the ground, face-down, and leaning into the side of his police SUV.
The video is approximately eight minutes of Floyd in that position and you can hear Floyd pleading with the officer to just let him breathe.
“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” Floyd repeats in the video.
The crowd of people are yelling at the officer to let up on Floyd. They’re all shouting different things to the officer and trying to get him to stop.
Eventually Floyd goes quiet, appearing to be unconscious.
“He’s unresponsive, bro! He’s unresponsive!”
“Does he have a pulse?”
“No, look at him!”
The officer remains on Floyd’s neck, looking down at him, pulling out what appears to be mase to keep the people trying to stop him at bay. Floyd died in the hours following at Hennepin County Medical Center. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called what happened “wrong on every level.”
Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted:
“It is sickening to watch this black man be killed while helplessly begging for help. Black lives matter isn’t just a chant, it’s call for justice. It’s a call for our humanity to be recognized. This must stop. There needs to be an immediate DOJ investigation into this.”
However the initial statement from police made no mention of the officer’s offense, just that he called an ambulance:
“Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”
It continued, “Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”
Jemele Hill summed it up on Twitter perfectly:
“A reminder: What happened to George Floyd is what Amy Cooper hoped would happen to Christian Cooper.”
Writer/actress Ashley Nicole Black tweeted:
“A lot of people are ‘not racist’ until a black person is put into any position of authority near them. Even as small as requesting she follow the law by leashing her dog becomes ‘he was threatening my life.’ Her life as a person who never gets told what to do by black ppl I guess.”
Amy knew exactly what she was doing Monday morning. She aimed for Christian to suffer the fate that only hours later would befall Floyd.
Some reports mention Amy has since had her dog taken away by the agency from which she adopted it. Additionally, Amy’s employer, Franklin Templeton Investments, has fired her. Cooper says her life has been “destroyed” by the video.
That was supposed to happen because Christian’s life was the one that was supposed to be destroyed. Like Floyd’s. Four police officers connected to George Floyd’s fatal arrest have also been fired. The FBI has been called in to further investigate the case.
However, Floyd is dead. Or shall I say, Floyd’s life has been quite literally “destroyed.”
Amy Cooper probably didn’t know Floyd’s name as of Tuesday morning — she’s dealing with a lot. But, she knows well what happens to the George Floyds of this country because she tried to do it to Christian Cooper.