Justice Catalyst ’20-’21 Fellow Yazmine Nichols wrote a Medium article on frivolous race-based police calls in response to developments in the case of Amy Cooper. Ms. Cooper, a white woman, filed a false police report on Christian Cooper, a Black man, last summer after the two had an altercation regarding Ms. Cooper’s unleashed dog in Central Park. Prosecutors decided to drop the charges against Ms. Cooper in early March. Legal commentators were split by this division. Some experts argued for stronger punishments against false police report filers to protect victims, whereas others question the efficacies of harsh punishment.
As the author of “Race Has Everything to Do with It: A Remedy for Frivolous Race-Based Police Calls,” Nichols took a different angle: Nichols discussed the existence of frivolous race-based police calls as a blind spot in law enforcement.
“The reason that New York State hate crime law fails to address race-based false reports is because FRBPCs (frivolous race based police calls) involve elements of false reporting crimes and hate crimes, placing the calls outside of traditional legal analysis,” wrote Nichols.
Regarding punishment for Ms. Cooper’s false police report, Nichols deferred to Mr. Cooper. “Ultimately, I think that we have to respect the wishes of the victim here, Christian Cooper.” She added, “there should also be some form of compensation to the victim.”
Yazmine Nichols is a ’20-’21 Justice Catalyst Fellow at the national ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, where she challenges unjust pretrial conditions of release and works to eliminate pretrial profiteering through a targeted campaign centering women of color.