Cooper’s subsequent call to police – announced Wednesday during a virtual hearing at the Manhattan Criminal Court – echoes the pattern of lies white women tell about blacks from the Jim Crow era. And the consequences were often fatal or led to wrongful sentences.
“We will hold accountable people who make fake and racist 911 calls,” Manhattan District Attorney Sai Vance Jr. said Wednesday. “Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in the police response to Ms. Cooper’s fraud.”
Filing a false report by 911 is a crime in New York and is also against the state’s civil rights law. Cooper did not comment and her case was adjourned until November 1
Here’s a look at some past cases involving false accusations by white women against black men and boys.
Emmett Till was accused of assaulting a woman
Emmett had traveled there from Chicago to visit his uncle, who lived in the area.
Roy Bryant, the woman’s husband, and his half-brother, JW Milam, pushed Emmett out of bed in the middle of the night on August 28, 1955. They ordered him into bed in a pickup truck and eventually beat him severely before shooting him in the head.
The men tied a 75-pound cotton gin fan to his neck with barbed wire to weigh it down when it was thrown into the Talahachi River.
Emmett’s assassination shook the nation when images of his disfigured face were published and crowds attended his funeral in Chicago, where his coffin was open to the public. His death helped fuel the thriving civil rights movement.
The woman, Carolyn Bryant, later testified for the defense and gave incendiary testimony, accusing Emmett of grabbing her and verbally threatening her.
“I think everyone has known her since 1955. No one thought she was telling the truth to begin with, and they didn’t choose to pursue her then,” Tyson told reporters in 2018.
The Scottsboro Boys have been charged with rape
In 1931, nine black boys – ages 12 to 19 – were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train near Scottsboro, Alabama.
They faced a series of trials, and each of the nine spent at least six years in prison.
The trials led to two landmark US Supreme Court rulings – one requiring defendants to be tried by jurors of their peers, meaning blacks in their cases; the other requires poor defendants to obtain a competent lawyer.
Alabama dropped the rape charges against five of the defendants, and the sixth, Clarence Norris, was pardoned by Gov. George Wallace in 1976.
Groveland Four has faced allegations of rape
In 1949, four black men were charged with sexually abusing a 17-year-old white girl in Groland, Florida, about 30 miles west of Orlando. The group became known as the Groveland Four.
The girl Norma Paget claims that her car was damaged and the four men stopped and raped her.
The men – Charles Greenley, Walter Irwin, Samuel Shepard and Ernest Thomas – were arrested and three were tortured while police managed to demand confession from two of them.
Thomas, who managed to escape arrest, was killed after a chase.
Greenley was sentenced to life in prison. Shepard and Irwin received the death penalty. While being transported from the county jail for retrial, the sheriff shot them both and claimed self-defense.
Shepard died at the scene, and Irwin survived by playing dead. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.
She said a 9-year-old child touched her before apologizing
Black men and boys continue to be falsely accused. Although not facing lynching as in the 20th century, many have spent years in prison for crimes they did not commit.
Even younger children face false accusations.
The woman, Teresa Klein, was widely criticized on social media after a video showing her and labeling her as “Cornerstore Caroline” was posted on Facebook in October 2018.
“I was just sexually assaulted by a child,” Klein said in the video, apparently on a 911 phone.
The boy in the big blue backpack and the girl, who looked younger than the boy, burst into tears.
Days after the incident, Klein returned to the delicacy and watched surveillance footage showing the child’s backpack pressed against her back – his hands visible – as she leaned over the Brooklyn delicacy stand.
“Young man, I don’t know your name, but I’m sorry,” the woman told reporters after watching the footage.
At the time, New York City police told CNN that the department had not received 911 calls or complaints about the incident from the delicatessen or woman.