According to NBC News, the judge established that the defendant David Elmendorf’s actions violated the protesters’ civil rights. And the ruling came following a lawsuit filed against Elmendorf by New York Attorney General Letitia James. This was also the first lawsuit to partly rely on a recent state law that was passed to clamp down on people making false, racially motivated police reports.
Per the suit, the incident occurred after a group of people gathered at the Bumpy’s Polar Freeze ice cream shop in Schenectady to stage a protest after racist text messages that were allegedly written by Elmendorf were shared on social media. The defendant was the owner of the establishment at the time.
During the protests, the suit stated that Elmendorf was armed with a baton and air rifle, and he also hurled racial slurs at the protesters. Elmendorf was also accused of calling 911 to make a false report about a group of armed protesters threatening to shoot him. The defendant also allegedly called the protesters “savages.”
The lawsuit thereby deemed Elmendorf’s actions to be in contravention of the protesters’ right to demonstrate peacefully as he allegedly harassed and threatened them, NBC News reported. The suit also made reference to an incident last year involving a White woman who called the police to falsely claim she was being threatened by a Black birdwatcher during a confrontation in Central Park, New York City. That case in question gained nationwide headlines.
But Elmendorf’s attorney, James Mermigis, disputed the allegations in the lawsuit and said the defendant’s reputation was being tarnished.
Per the ruling, Elmendorf has been ordered to pay $4,500 to the nine protesters he is accused of harassing. Each protester will receive $500. He has also been permanently prohibited from making racially motivated threats at people. He cannot also brandish a deadly weapon while he’s 1000 feet within a peaceful protest, NBC News reported.
“There is zero tolerance for harassment, intimidation, or violence of any kind against anyone in New York,” Attorney General James said in a statement.
Elmendorf moved out of state in the aftermath of the incident. His attorney also claimed they couldn’t plead their case in court as Elmendorf was not served the right way.