Ottawa gets its own Amy Cooper as white woman calls 911 on Black man for no reason
Ottawa police are apologizing today for the response of a 911 operator who failed to tell a middle-aged white woman that she should f*ck right off when calling to complain about a Black man walking too close to her in a park.
The incident in question was caught on camera by a Carleton University law student who happened to be standing on a narrow pedestrian bridge when a fanny pack-wearing, middle-aged, "speak to the manager" haircut-having woman demanded that he move.
"This Karen and her buckled knees decided to call the cops on my lil bro for crossing a BRIDGE because it's not 6 feet in width," wrote the student's brother on Twitter while sharing a video from the encounter, which took place Monday.
"She was the [sic] assisted by Ottawa Police, who you hear telling him that he's intimidating her, when they weren't even there," he continued, calling upon Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson to better train police dispatch operators.
Indeed, the woman can be seen in that video speaking on a cell phone, describing the law student's appearance to someone as she creeps past him on the bridge.
The student alleges that the woman isn't actually talking to anyone, so she switches over to speakerphone, allowing him to hear someone from the Ottawa Police Service on the line.
"Do I need to send a police officer just to let this girl by?" asks the operator to the man.
"I'm not stopping her from coming by. If you guys want to send —"
The man is cut off by the police operator, who says "You're intimidating her sir, okay? Can you just stand to the side and let her go on her way?"
"I'm standing to the side. I'm not intimidating her. Have a good day. Send an officer if you want to send an officer."
The operator can be heard saying that won't be necessary.
"Then don't send an officer," the man replies. "She's already walked by, right? Thank you, Karen!"
After the video started going viral on Twitter, the young man who was accosted by the woman posted a lengthy note to his Instagram account explaining what had happened.
"I was taking a break on my bike on the bridge (which is the same width as the trail) and was on one side of the railing. For about three minutes, people walked by me on the other side of the bridge," he wrote.
"I noticed Karen from a distance and realized that she hadn't walked by me after two minutes."
The student says the woman started yelling at him to move from the bridge so she could walk across it. He laughed, prompting the woman to yell about how they had to stay six feet apart.
Being that the bridge was roughly the same width as the trail, the man says he would have briefly crossed paths with the woman at a similar distance either way.
"I won't live my life in a way that makes you more comfortable on top of your privilege, and using this pandemic as a weapon on my rights ain't gunna work here, Karen," he wrote.
The man's refusal to move prompted the woman to call him a "jackass" start taking pictures. She told him to wait on the bridge for police to arrive and then, for some reason, went into the bushes to call 911.
Not getting the response from police she had hoped for, the woman started walking away, prompting the young man filming to laugh at her, mock her and tell her she should "feel stupid."
"She picked the phone right back up and called [police] saying I was harassing her," the man wrote.
"After that is when you see her having to talk to the cops AND DESCRIBE MY APPEARANCE as she walked by just in case I did something to her (I didn't step one foot off my bike throughout the whole interaction.)"
While police didn't end up sending any officers to the scene, they did admit publicly that the operator mishandled the situation.
We have reached out to and spoken with @IceFresh2 today.— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) July 9, 2020
Further conversations will take place tomorrow where we will be offering a full and unreserved apology for our role in this very unfortunate incident.
"We are fully reviewing this incident," wrote Ottawa Police in a comment on the man's original post Friday morning. "At this point it is clear that this was not an appropriate use of the 911 system and the Service did not act appropriately in handling the call."
"Further conversations will take place today where we will be offering a full and unreserved apology for our role in this very unfortunate incident."
Ottawa Police went on to warn the public on both Twitter and Instagram that "the 911 system is only to be used for actual public safety emergencies."
"Misuse of the 911 system can put the public and officer safety in jeopardy and could result in a range consequences up to and including criminal prosecution," wrote police.
Police have not publicly identified the living Karen archetype seen in the videos, and it is not yet clear if any charges will be laid against her for misusing the 911 system.
It is possible, however: Just look at what eventually happened to Amy Cooper, a Canadian who called the cops on a Black birdwatcher at New York City's Central Park under similar circumstances in May.
Cooper was charged earlier this week with filing a false report and is set to be arraigned in New York City on October 14.
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