SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Attorney General of New York of suing the former owner of Bumpy’s Polar Freeze.
Letitia James filed a lawsuit against David Elmendorf, the ex-owner of the popular Schenectady ice cream shop, for filing a false, race-based police report in the summer of 2020. He is also being sued for allegedly racist intimidation tactics and pulling weapons on peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters.
“Those who make racist and violent threats will be held accountable by my office with the full weight of the law,” said Attorney General James. “The charges against David Elmendorf should serve as a warning that hate crimes will not be tolerated on my watch and we will not allow any individual to use the color of someone’s skin as a weapon.”
James said in a written statement that the lawsuit seeks to hold Elmendorf responsible for multiple illegal, racist, and discriminatory actions he took once allegations of the shop’s racist hiring practices came to light. In June 2020, text messages allegedly from Elmendorf leaked on social media. They showed Elmendorf using racial epithets and outlining a refusal to hire Black people. Community groups including BLM protested on private property near Bumpy’s over a period of two days.
She says he spewed racial slurs and made armed death threats in altercations with the peaceful protesters who were demonstrating legally. He alleged brandished both a .22 caliber air rifle and a baton. Elmendorf then called local police, filing false reports that it was the protesters who brandished weapons. According to the attorney general, “he used their race and color as reasoning for the call.”
The lawsuit charges Elmendorf with intending to choose his victims based on race and violating their civil right to protest by harassing protestors and threatening physical violence. It would block him from having a weapon within 1,000 feet of a protest, communicating with victims, making false, racial police reports, and making threats to intimidate, coerce, or harass people over their race. The suit also wants him to pay $500 for each instance of violating a protester’s right to demonstrate.
“Racism and hatred will not be tolerated in our community and I would like to thank Attorney General James for her leadership on this historic case,” said Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy.
This is the first opportunity for James to use authority newly granted to her following the viral Central Park dog leash incident last summer. Then, a white woman 911 on an innocent Black birdwatcher who asked her to follow the park’s rules. With that environment, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, New York’s legislature authorized a Hate Crimes and Bias Prevention Unit to take shape under the attorney general’s leadership. James is empowered to sue any person who is motivated by racial bias to call the police “without reason to suspect a violation of the penal law.”
On Wednesday, James said, “We are utilizing new authority, for the first time, to bring charges against an individual who filed false, race-based police reports. We must continue to remain vigilant against hate and bias in our communities, and I encourage anyone with information about a potential hate crime to contact my office.”
Take a look at the lawsuit below: