New NY bill would make false reporting a hate crime in some instances in wake of Central Park video

Posted at 8:33 AM, May 27, 2020

NEW YORK — Two New York lawmakers have introduced legislation that would make falsely reporting criminal incidents a hate crime in some instances.

The new bill was announced Tuesday, hours after a video began circulating widely on social media that showed a white woman calling the police on a black man in Central Park.

The video, widely shared Monday, shows a confrontation between the woman, identified as Amy Cooper, and a black man, Christian Cooper, who was bird watching in the park. The man had allegedly asked the woman to keep her dog on a leash, per park rules.

"He is recording me and threatening me and my dog," the woman said in the video. "I'm being threatened by a man in the Ramble! Please send the cops immediately."

No arrests were made, though police did respond to Central Park.

New York State lawmakers Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and Senator Brian Benjamin introduced legislation to criminalize similar actions in the state.

"In the past year, we have seen many instances throughout both New York State and the country of people calling 911 on black people who are going about their everyday lives, only to be interrupted by someone calling the police for reasons that range from caution, to suspicious inkling to all out hated," Ortiz said.

Benjamin represents people in the area in which the incident took place.

"It is frightening that this incident happened just blocks from where many of my constituents live and that this woman was so willing to fabricate a story despite being filmed," he said. "I worry that if she had not been filmed, this woman may have been given the benefit of the doubt, and that this man could have faced serious, perhaps life threatening consequences if the police had arrived."

This story was originally published by Aliza Chasan and Kirstin Cole on WPIX in New York.