World

Woman charged over racism in NYC park

By AAP Newswire

New York prosecutors have charged a white woman who in May accused an African American man of threatening her life in New York's Central Park with filing a false police report, Manhattan's district attorney says.

The district attorney Cy Vance said Amy Cooper, 41, faces an October 14 arraignment over the incident, which was captured on a video that went viral and touched off a national conversation about "white privilege."

"We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable," Vance said in a statement.

Filing a false report is a misdemeanour punishable by up to one year in jail.

Cooper had been walking her dog on May 25 in an area of Central Park known as the Ramble when she encountered Christian Cooper, an avid bird-watcher not related to her.

Christian Cooper has said he asked her to leash her dog, and when she refused offered the dog treats.

Amy Cooper was shown in the video saying she would tell the police "there's an African-American man threatening my life," which was false, and telling a 911 operator that Christian Cooper was threatening her and her dog, referring to him twice as "African-American."

The video has more than 44.7 million views on Twitter.

The incident occurred a few hours before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, where a police officer pinned his neck to the ground with a knee, touched off nationwide protests over racial injustice.

After video of the Central Park incident went viral, Cooper was fired from her job at the Franklin Templeton asset manager, and she publicly apologised.

In a statement on Monday, Cooper's lawyer Robert Barnes said she would be found not guilty, and faulted a "rush to judgment" by some about the case.

"She lost her job, her home, and her public life. Now some demand her freedom?" Barnes said.

"How many lives are we going to destroy over misunderstood 60-second videos on social media?"