A black comic book artist and scientist who was threatened with the police by a white woman after telling her to leash her dog has landed his own TV show.
Christian Cooper will star in National Geographic’s Extraordinary Birder, the network announced Friday. Cooper, 59, was confronted by Amy Cooper in New York’s Central Park on May 25 2020 – the same day George Floyd was murdered.
He was birdwatching in the park’s Ramble area at the time, and had asked Cooper – no relation – to leash her dog in accordance with park rules.
That prompted her to dial 911 and claim she was being threatened by a black man.
The encounter was caught on video, with Christian, a Harvard-educated scientist, ultimately vindicated as an innocent victim, while Amy lost her job amid a firestorm of outrage over her decision to ‘weaponize’ the police against a blameless black man.
In his new show Christian will take viewers into the ‘wild, wonderful, and unpredictable world of birds,’ throughout multiple locations, National Geographic said in a statement.
‘Whether [he is] braving stormy seas in Alaska for puffins, trekking into rainforests in Puerto Rico for parrots, or scaling a bridge in Manhattan for a peregrine falcon, he does whatever it takes to learn about these extraordinary feathered creatures and show us the remarkable world in the sky above,’ the statement read.
Christian Cooper, 59, of Manhattan, will now be the star of National Geographic’s Extraordinary Birder after he was the victim of a racist attack in Central Park last year
National Geographic announced Cooper will be taking viewers through multiple locations, such as Alaska and Puerto Rico, to birdwatch. The company did not give a release date
He told CBS Mornings in June 2020 that he said: ‘”Excuse me, ma’am, but dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times’… And she said: “Well, the dog runs are closed.”‘
He can be heard over in the video he recorded telling Amy to ‘please don’t come closer to me,’ to which she replied, while holding her dog by his collar, that she was ‘going to take your picture and calling the cops. I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.’
‘She basically pulled the pin on the race grenade and tried to lob it at me,’ he told CBS Mornings.
Cooper’s video garnered thousands of views and Amy was dubbed the ‘Central Park Karen’ and eventually lost her job and was charged with a misdemeanor for making a false police report. The charges were later dropped after Manhattan prosecutors said she learned her lesson in therapy.
While holding her dog by his collar, (pictured) , Amy Cooper – no relation – told him in the now-viral video that she was ‘going to take your picture and calling the cops. I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life’
The pair were inside Central Park’s Ramble, where signs say ‘dogs must be leashed at all times’
Amy told Bari Weiss on his Honesty podcast that she was ‘as a woman alone in the park’ and she didn’t know if she had ‘another option’ beside contacting authorities and had ‘explored all my options.’
‘I tried to leave. I tried to look for anyone who’s around. There was no noise, no sound,’ she said on the podcast.
She later claimed on the podcast that Christian had told her: ‘If you’re going to do what you want to do, then I’m going to do what I want to do, but you’re not going to like it,’ which Christian confirmed to CBS Mornings was true.
The birder had pulled out dog treats to help Amy leash her dog – an old birdwatcher trick, he said. However, Amy didn’t perceive it that way.
She said on the podcast: ”I’m trying to figure out what that means? Is that a physical attack on me? An attack on my dog? What is he about to do?
‘I look up and he’s holding these dog treats in one hand and a bike helmet in his other hand and I’m thinking: “Oh my god, is this guy going to lure my dog over and try to hit him with his bike helmet? And if I end up over there am I going to get hit by this bike helmet?”‘
Amy also says she was thrown off guard by Christian’s change in demeanor when she called the cops.
‘It’s really weird because he’s still standing there, you know, same very physical posture, and suddenly out of him comes this voice from man who’s been very dominant towards me,’ she says.
‘Suddenly, you know, almost this victimized voicing, [saying,] “Don’t come near me. Don’t come any closer,”‘ she says.
Amy said she had to flee the country and was ‘suicidal’ after the incident, where she was charged with a misdemeanor and lost her job
‘Like, almost like he’s terrified of me…To me that’s even more terrifying now because you’ve gone from screaming at me – if you kept screaming at me, at least it was consistent, but now his whole verbal demeanor has changed.’
Amy says that when she asked Christian to stop recording, he refused, adding to her anxiety.
‘At the point that she makes that phone call, it’s very clear that, you know, there is no physical threat to her at all,’ Christian told CBS Mornings. ‘It’s the iPhone and the dog treats.’
Amy also revealed on the podcast that she became ‘suicidal’ and had to flee the country following the incident after facing a large wave of hate on the internet.
Cooper has since gone on to write and illustrate a book for DC Comics called It’s A Bird, the first part of the company’s digital anthology series called Represent, according to Open Culture.
The comic book has a similar storyline as Cooper’s own encounter with Amy, but was set in a suburban area rather than Central Park’s Ramble. The main character Jules comes across a white woman with her dog off his leash in the story.
Cooper also has roots in Marvel and was the company’s first openly gay writer and editor.
National Geographic did not say when Extraordinary Birder would be released.