The former owner of a Schenectady, New York, ice cream shop will have to pay nine Black Lives Matter protesters $4,500 after he made false, race-fueled reports against them last year.
A State Supreme Court judge ordered David Elmendorf on Wednesday to pay nine Black Lives Matter protesters $500 each after he violated their civil rights last year. The suit was brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James and relied on a new state law intended to prevent false police reports based on race, according to The Times-Union.
“There is zero tolerance for harassment, intimidation, or violence of any kind against anyone in New York,” said Attorney General James.
“As this nation continues to be plagued by division and hate, this decision sends a critical and clear message that those who perpetuate racism and discrimination, including filing false, race-based police reports, will be held to the fullest extent of the law. This is an important step forward, but our work isn’t over — we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that every New Yorker feels safe and protected.”
The new law, dubbed the “Central Park Karen” law, was passed last year after Amy Cooper called police in May and falsely claimed she was being attacked by a Black bird-watcher in Manhattan’s Central Park.
Last June, text messages allegedly sent by Elmendorf in which he said he would not hire Black people to work at his since-closed Bumpy’s Polar Freeze ice cream shop spread on social media. Elmendorf wrote in one message, “I don’t hire black people,” according to court filings. In response, Black Lives Matter protesters showed up to demonstrate on his property.
On June 30, the group “stood peacefully on the porch of a private house” near the ice cream shop, but for 15 minutes Elmendorf unleased a racial tirade, calling protesters monkeys and the N-word. He threatened the protesters with a baton and said he’d go grab a gun, promoting demonstrators to flee.
“If you come over here I’m going to shoot you” Elmendorf allegedly said. “I’ll kill all you f—-ing n—-rs,” the court filing alleges he said.
According to court documents, Elmendorf called 911 and claimed there were “20 armed protesters who were threatening to shoot him,” and said they were ‘”savages’ hanging out in ‘Section 8 housing.'”
When police arrived, Elmendorf had left the scene, but officers found him in his vehicle with a pellet gun and ammunition. No protesters were carrying any guns. According to the lawsuit, Elmendorf violated protesters’ right to demonstrate by threatening them.
Elmendorf’s ice cream shop was closed because he would not follow COVID restrictions and failed to correct a health violation, and it is now under new ownership. He can no longer be in possession of a weapon within 1,000 feet of a peaceful protest.
“This outcome sends a clear message that racism and hatred will not be tolerated in our community,” said Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy. “On behalf of the city of Schenectady, I would like to thank Attorney General James and her team for their dedicated work on this historic case.”
Elmendorf pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault. In May, the case was pending, and it’s not clear where the charges stand.