A former ice cream shop owner in Upstate New York who was accused of calling police and falsely claiming to be threatened by non-violent Black Lives Matter protesters last year was ordered Wednesday to pay them a total of $4,500 for violating their civil rights.
The judge’s ruling stemmed from a lawsuit by state Attorney General Letitia James against David Elmendorf, former owner of Bumpy’s Polar Freeze in Schenectady, about 167 miles north of New York City.
Under the ruling, Elmendorf must pay $500 each to nine protesters he harassed, totaling $4,500.
Elmendorf’s defense attorney, James Mermigis, said the allegations were “categorically false” and that his client’s name was being smeared. Mermigis said Elmendorf was never properly served a summons, so no defense was made in court.
James’ lawsuit was the first to rely, in part, on a new law that makes it illegal to submit a false “race-based” police report. The law was passed last year after a White woman called 911 on a Black birdwatcher in New York City’s Central Park and falsely claimed he was threatening her, reports said.
Elmendorf is accused of violating state law by making “multiple armed threats, including death threats, using derogatory racist language, against peaceful Black protestors and made false reports to the police regarding those protestors,” the suit alleges.
The protesters went to his business in June 2020 to demonstrate after racist text messages Elmendorf allegedly wrote were shared on social media.
Elmendorf was also accused of calling 911 to falsely report that there were “20 armed protestors who were threatening to shoot him,” according to the lawsuit. He allegedly referred to the Black protesters as “savages,” the suit added.
“There is zero tolerance for harassment, intimidation, or violence of any kind against anyone in New York,” James said. “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,” James added.
Elmendorf is permanently barred from making future threats against people because of their race. He’s also barred from brandishing a deadly weapon within 1,000 feet “of any person or group of persons peacefully protesting.”
Elmendorf is now working in a different state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
New York shop owner who called cops on BLM protesters ordered to pay $4.5K