Amanpour Christian Cooper Melody Cooper
A 'weaponization of race' in Central Park
17:46 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

Christian Cooper, a Black birder and activist whose incident with a White woman last month helped touch off a nationwide debate about race, announced on Friday that he is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden for president.

Cooper wrote in an NBC News op-ed that while he does not agree with Biden 100% of the time, “what makes Biden special, and uniquely suited to this moment, is his capacity for growth. I’ve seen his understanding of our country evolve over the years to meet new challenges. His own personal story of tragedy and then triumph in his family life wouldn’t be possible for someone who couldn’t take pain and forge something new from it. It shows a capacity to heal, to learn, to evolve, to overcome.”

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NBC published the op-ed on Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Cooper said Biden’s positions on racial issues are in stark contrast with those of President Donald Trump. “When the mistreatment of Black and brown people in this country has cried out for justice and healing, (Trump) has given a wink and a nod to white nationalists — and to anyone who decides to try to weaponize race just to get what they want.”

Cooper concluded his op-ed with a fervent endorsement of Biden: “I’m eager for a president who’ll nurture his capacity for growth in our nation itself. That’s why I support Joe Biden.”

Cooper and Amy Cooper, who is not related to him, made national headlines last month after they encountered each other in New York’s Central Park while she was walking her dog. 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.”

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She was fired from her job the next day, after being briefly placed on administrative leave. Christian Cooper has asked people to stop making death threats against her.

At the time of the encounter, Cooper said, “I videotaped it because I thought it was important to document things. Unfortunately we live in an era with things like Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are seen as targets. This woman thought she could exploit that to her advantage, and I wasn’t having it.”