NEW YORK — Falsely reporting an incident as a hate crime would be criminalized in New York if legislation proposed Tuesday in the wake of a viral video is passed.
The video, widely shared Monday, shows a confrontation between a white woman walking her dog off a leash in Central Park and a black man bird watching in Central Park.
"He is recording me and threatening me and my dog," Amy Cooper, the woman, is heard saying. "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 wrote in the justification for the bill.
State Sen. Benjamin represents people in the area.
"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."