Who is David Elmendorf? NY shop owner who harassed BLM protesters ordered to pay $4.5K
Elmendorf is permanently banned from making future threats against people because of their race
SCHENECTADY, NEW YORK: A former New York ice cream shop owner who allegedly called police and falsely claimed that he was threatened by non-violent Black Lives Matter protesters last year was ordered to pay a total of $4,500 for violating their civil rights on Wednesday, August 18.
The judge's ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Letitia James against David Elmendorf, 35, former owner of Bumpy’s Polar Freeze in Schenectady, about 167 miles north of NY City. Under the ruling, Elmendorf must pay $500 each to nine protesters he harassed, totaling $4,500. Elmendorf's defense attorney, James Mermigis, stated that the accusations against his client were "categorically false" and that his name was being smeared.
“If you come over here I’m going to shoot you,” Elmendorf allegedly shouted, before calling protesters “monkeys” and the n-word and yelling, “I’ll kill all of you!” After he threatened the group with a gun, Elmendorf called 911 and narrated a completely different story. He falsely claimed that a group of Black protesters had just threatened to shoot him.
Now, the New York State Office of the Attorney General is suing Elmendorf under a new law that makes it illegal to submit a false “race-based” police report. The law was passed in 2020 after a White woman dubbed Karen, walking through Central Park made a false police report about a Black birdwatcher who requested she leash her dog.
“Elmendorf violated various New York laws over the course of two days in June 2020 when he made multiple armed threats, including death threats using derogatory racist language, against peaceful Black protesters and made false reports to the police regarding those protesters,” states the 8-page lawsuit filed on Wednesday by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Mermigis added that he “categorically denies all of the allegations in the lawsuit.” “My client did not say any of these things,” Mermigis said, adding that for the past five years, about 75 percent of Elmendorf’s staff identified as Black or Latino. “I personally would never represent a racist if I thought they were a racist.” The case is the latest blow to Elmendorf, who has since shut the shop after battling authorities over Covid-19 restrictions.
In August, he was fined $10,000 after failing to comply with Covid-19 safety measures and later ordered to shut down the shop. In October 2020, he was also charged with assault after allegedly stabbing an investigator with a pen; he has pleaded not guilty.
Elmendorf and his wife bought Bumpy’s Polar Freeze ice cream store in 2013, a local dessert place known for its soft serves and shakes. The store in Schenectady, about 160 miles north of NYC, was where the couple had their first date.
Tensions at the shop intensified last summer after racist text messages that were allegedly written by Elmendorf began circulating on social media, according to the lawsuit. One of the texts, which allegedly included racial slurs, said, “I don’t hire Black people.” The messages sparked rallies outside the ice cream store beginning in June 2020 the lawsuit states.
"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 banned from making future threats against people because of their race.