In my beloved yet estranged home state of Louisiana, today is Mardi Gras, which means tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. A more typical year in that weird and wonderful state would mean that every person over 21 (15 if we’re being honest) was piss drunk right now and peeing behind a parked car in a strip mall parking lot wearing a neck full of free beads, safe in the knowledge that all will be forgiven the next day, Ash Wednesday.
But this is not a typical year, and the only person possibly celebrating freedom from bad decisions born of systematized penitence is likely quite far away from Bourbon Street in New City, since the court system has declared Amy Cooper, the Central Park cop-caller, is likely super sorry and thus free to go about her business.
You might remember Cooper from earlier this summer, when she called the cops on a Black man in Central Park, who had dared to tell her to put her dog on a leash, as per the clearly stated park rules. Because pretending one’s life is being threatened when one is merely being asked to follow the rules is theoretically a crime, Cooper did in fact face a year in prison after being charged. But now that Cooper has completed a grand total of five therapy sessions, she’s been through enough, according to the prosecutor in the case, who told the New York Times this whole thing is a shining example of how restorative justice helps everyone:
“Ms. Cooper had been offered the program, part of an alternative solution that falls under the rubric of restorative justice, partially based on her lack of criminal background, [prosecutor] Ms. Illuzzi-Orbon said. Restorative justice, an alternative to traditional prosecution, looks at the harm done and implements a process for reconciliation among the parties involved, including the offender, the victim and the community.”
And while Christian Cooper declined to press charges at the time, the District Attorney’s office pushed forward with the case anyway, stating that she was “a threat to the community if allowed to go unchecked.” If only we could get some sort of five therapy sessions to freedom program like that for the other people New York City prosecutors and law enforcement deem “unchecked” criminals, like children accused of stealing backpacks or men suspected of selling loosies.