Anger as white woman reports black birdwatcher in Central Park to police

Anger as white woman reports black birdwatcher in Central Park to police
Amy Coooper was captured on video on Monday calling the police on a man who says he asked her to put her dog on a leash in New York’s Central Park. (Screengrab)
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Updated 26 May 2020

Anger as white woman reports black birdwatcher in Central Park to police

Anger as white woman reports black birdwatcher in Central Park to police
  • Amy Cooper: There is an African-American man, I’m in Central Park. He’s recording me and threatening me and threatening my dog
  • New York City mayor Bill de Blasio condemned her actions as racism, plain and simple

NEW YORK: A video of a white woman calling the police about a black birdwatcher in New York’s Central Park has gone viral, sparking anger about African-Americans being falsely reported to cops.
The clip, posted on Twitter and viewed 30 million times, was filmed by the man, Christian Cooper, who said he had asked the woman to leash her dog.
She was walking the pooch on Monday in a wooded area of the park popular with birdwatchers where dogs are meant to be kept on leads.
As the woman struggles to control the dog, she approaches Cooper and is then seen making a phone call.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” she tells Cooper while appearing to dial 911.
“There is an African-American man, I’m in Central Park. He’s recording me and threatening me and threatening my dog,” she then tells the operator.
The exchange prompted outrage on social media, with users calling the woman a “Karen,” a term popular online to describe an entitled white woman.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio condemned her actions as “racism, plain and simple.”
“She called the police BECAUSE he was a Black man. Even though she was the one breaking the rules. She decided he was the criminal and we know why. This kind of hatred has no place in our city,” he tweeted.
The woman was identified as Amy Cooper, no relation to the man she argued with. She worked in insurance at investment management company Franklin Templeton.
She apologized during an interview with NBC but denied that she was racist, saying she had overreacted after feeling threatened.
“I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family,” she said.
In a statement posted on Twitter Tuesday, Franklin Templeton said it had fired an employee with immediate effect following an investigation.
“We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton,” the company said.
On Facebook, Christian Cooper said he had offered the dog a treat after the woman refused his request to leash the dog.
“That’s when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn,” he wrote.


Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign
Updated 18 January 2021

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign
  • Indonesia planning to inoculate 181 million in nationwide vaccination drive

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government’s strategy to promote coronavirus vaccination is under fire after an influencer who received a vaccine jab last week was spotted violating health guidelines just a few
hours later.

Indonesia started the nationwide vaccination drive on Wednesday to inoculate 181 million of its 276 million people, after the national drug regulator authorized the emergency use of the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech and the country’s highest authority on Islamic affairs approved it as halal, or permissible under Islamic law.

President Joko Widodo, who was the first Indonesian to receive the vaccine, described the campaign as a “game changer,” amid hopes that achieving herd immunity would help to revive the economy, which has been reeling from the pandemic. 

Alongside officials and religious leaders, 33-year-old soap opera star Raffi Ahmad also received the jab. Government strategists hoped he would promote vaccine acceptance with his huge social media presence of some 50 million followers on Instagram and 19 million on YouTube.

However, soon after receiving his shot Ahmad was photographed at a party, without a face mask and violating social distancing measures imposed by the government to contain the virus spread. The photos quickly made the rounds on social media, provoking a backlash to the government’s campaign and resulting in a lawsuit against the celebrity.

“He was really careless. He is tasked with promoting the vaccination drive, but he failed to behave accordingly,” said David Tobing, an independent lawyer who has filed the case against Ahmad for “violating the regulations to control the pandemic and for public indecency.”

“I demand in my lawsuit that the court order Ahmad to stay at home for 30 days after he gets his second vaccine jab and to issue a public apology in national print and broadcast media,” Tobing told Arab News on Saturday. “I filed the lawsuit after I received a lot of feedback from the public, including COVID-19 survivors and those who have lost loved ones because of the coronavirus.”

Ahmad has apologized on social media, saying that he did not want to disappoint the president and the public after getting the privilege of being vaccinated, but justified going to the party as it was held at a private home and said that he taken the mask off only to eat. The first hearing against Ahmad is scheduled to be held at a district court in Depok near Jakarta on Jan. 27, Tobing said. He added that he is aware that Ahmad had apologized but the actor “did not seem to have any regret.”

In response to a question by Arab News at a press briefing after the incident, national COVID-19 task force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito said that officials had reprimanded Ahmad over the blunder. He justified the involvement of celebrities in the vaccination campaign.

“When we have a major program like vaccination, we hope that a big influencer such as Raffi Ahmad can play a pivotal role to make sure young people will support the vaccination,” Adisasmito said.

Experts have criticized the government’s strategy, saying that Ahmad receiving the vaccine is unlikely to appease public concerns over the vaccine’s efficacy and possible side effects.

“Health professionals, religious figures and government officials have more credibility and integrity to promote this vaccination drive than influencers,” said Sulfikar Amir, a sociologist from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Amir, who initiated a petition in early December calling on the government to give vaccinations to all citizens when Jakarta was still planning to inoculate only selected groups, said that by appointing the celebrity influencer to promote immunization the government showed that it “has no ability to influence the public to take part in the vaccination drive.”

“This is not the same as promoting consumer goods that the influencers normally do,” he said. “It is about public health issues.”