Christian Cooper, whose video of a woman calling the police on him while he was birdwatching went viral over the Memorial Day weekend, acknowledged the woman’s apology but said her act was “definitely racist.”
“I think her apology is sincere,” Cooper told CNN’s Don Lemon Tuesday night. “I’m not sure that in that apology she recognizes that while she may not be or consider herself a racist, that particular act was definitely racist.”
“And the fact that that was her recourse at that moment – granted, it was a stressful situation, a sudden situation – you know, maybe a moment of spectacularly poor judgment. But she went there and had this racist act that she did.”
The woman, Amy Cooper, said in earlier comments to CNN she wanted to “publicly apologize to everyone.” Lemon’s team invited the woman Monday to appear on the show alongside Christian Cooper but had not heard back from her by Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, the NYC Commission on Human Rights said it is investigating the incident.
The two encountered each other Monday morning in New York’s Central Park while she was walking her dog. They are not related.
They both told CNN their interaction began because her dog was not on a leash, which violated that area’s rules. Moments later, a video recorded by Christian Cooper shows the woman saying she was going to call the police and “going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
She was fired from her job the next day, after being briefly placed on administrative leave.
“Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton,” the company said on Twitter Tuesday.
“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” Amy Cooper had said in her earlier apology, adding that she also didn’t mean any harm to the African American community.
“Is she a racist? I can’t answer that,” Christian Cooper told Lemon Tuesday. “Only she can answer that. And I would submit probably the only way she’s going to answer that is going forward. How she conducts herself and, you know, how she chooses to reflect on this situation and examine it.”
In an interview with NPR, he said: “Now, should she be defined by that, you know, couple-of-seconds moment? I can’t answer that. I think that’s really up to her and what she does going forward.”
He says he never expected the video to explode in the way it did. He said he hoped that if they both went on Lemon’s show together Tuesday it would help bring a close to something that has “snowballed quite significantly.”
He says he recognizes she has also probably received a significant number of messages, like he has, but urged those reaching out to remain civil.
“I am told there has been death threats and that is wholly inappropriate and abhorrent and should stop immediately,” Christian Cooper said.
“I find it strange that people who were upset that … that she tried to bring death by cop down on my head, would then turn around and try to put death threats on her head. Where is the logic in that?” he said. “Where does that make any kind of sense?”