Amy Cooper was not afraid. In the now-infamous Ramble video, we can clearly see her entitlement and rage. We see her losing control because her privilege to exercise unfettered autonomy was challenged by Christian Cooper, a birder who requested that she respect leash-law rules. Christian’s video revealed the falsehood of Amy’s call to the police, in which she assumes a distressed voice and begs them to help her because an “African American” man was “threatening” her.
Once exposed, Amy apologized via media interview for her behavior and insisted she is “not a racist.” She further noted that she, in retrospect wrongly, regarded the police as a cost-free “protection agency” but that she now understood that “there are so many people in this country that don’t have that luxury.”
But Amy didn’t call the cops because she was scared of Christian the birder. That much is obvious from the video. She called them to prevail in a power struggle with a black man who dared to challenge her authority to do as she wished in public. She knew that in the contest with Christian, who used cellphone video to advance his effort to get her to leash her dog, she had an ace in the hole—the ability to activate a presumptively racist police force against an “African American” man. And what an advantage that is. A Minneapolis police officer’s horrific execution of George Floyd is just the latest in a mountain of evidence that such a call can equal a death sentence.
For decades, conservative and liberal women alike have been taught that the key to empowerment against men who pose a threat, real or imagined, is to call the police. As high as the stakes were for Christian, they were nonexistent for Amy. For upper- and middle-class white women, the demographic least likely to be arrested or face state violence, a call to the police appears to be a no-lose proposition.