After a racist phone call, the investigation against Amy Cooper is dropped. She takes therapy sessions instead.
A video of the birdwatcher proves the threat to Amy Cooper is made up Photo: Christian Cooper/ap
On May 25, 2020, the day African American George Floyd was killed by police officers, Amy Cooper called the police in New York’s Central Park for racial reasons. Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper had earlier asked her to leash her dog, as is required in that section of the park. White Amy Cooper then placed an emergency call, claiming that an African American man was threatening her life.
A video of the birdwatcher not only proved the threat was fabricated. It became a symbol of everyday racism and police violence in the US. An illustration of how white people use their privilege to endanger black people.
Amy Cooper lost her job, and prosecutors began investigating. If convicted, Cooper could have faced up to a year in prison. But on Tuesday, the investigation was dropped. The reason given was that Cooper had completed five therapy sessions on racism. The therapist said it was a "moving experience" and Cooper "learned a lot."
This approach falls under restorative justice. Instead of imprisonment, offenders must admit their guilt and make amends for their actions as a service to society. It can be used as a supplement or alternative to traditional criminal proceedings. In Germany, the principle is most likely to be found in "offender-victim mediation.
Restorative justice is not only more humane than letting people rot in prisons for years, it is also more promising. Studies suggest that victims are more satisfied with the results and the recidivism rate of offenders is significantly lower.
In the case of Amy Cooper, it should be clear that no one becomes an antiracist:in five therapy sessions. Unlearning racism is a lifelong process. It is a process that can be initiated through therapy, perhaps even sooner than through incarceration. Whether it succeeded in Cooper’s case remains to be seen. But one thing is certain, restorative justice is only fair if the principle is available to all, not just those with white privilege.