This Shop Owner Allegedly Lied About Being Threatened by BLM. He’s Now Facing a Hate Crime.

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.

An upstate New York business owner who called the cops on BLM protesters—after he allegedly hurled racial epithets and threatened them with an air rifle—will be the first person charged under a new law that makes it a crime to weaponize police against Black people.

A lawsuit filed by the state’s high-profile attorney general, Letitia James, alleges that David Elmendorf, the former owner of Bumpy Freeze in Schenectady, threatened to harm peaceful demonstrators who protested outside his ice cream shop last June during the nationwide outrage over the police killing of George Floyd. Elmendorf has been charged with a number of hate crimes related to the standoff, most notably for telling local authorities that demonstrators were armed and threatened to kill him.

In reality, he was the one who allegedly threatened to shoot a group of more than 50 protestors with a .22-caliber rifle and run them over with his truck, all while hurling racist epithets, the state’s lawsuit alleges.

This marks the first time the state is enforcing a law passed by the Legislature giving the AG the authority to bring charges against a person who files a false police report with the intent of getting someone in trouble on the basis of their race. The provision was introduced following the high-profile encounter between Christian Cooper, a Black birdwatcher, and Amy Cooper, a white woman, in Central Park last year. The encounter, in which Amy Cooper threatened to call the police on Christian Cooper after he asked her to keep her dog on a leash, received national attention and became a prime example of how emergency services could be weaponized against Black people.

In October, the city of San Francisco enacted a law criminalizing false 911 calls targeting minority groups. Virginia passed a similar bill in both the House and Senate that would consider such an offense a felony.

“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 statement earlier this week.

Last June, texts of Elmendorf using racial slurs and declaring that he won’t hire Black people leaked on social media. In response, the community expressed their grievances by protesting outside the shop for three days, and on the third night, Elmendorf apparently flipped: At around 4 a.m., he confronted the protesters with a baton, calling them “monkeys,” “coons,” and the N-word.

After protesters fled the scene, Elmendorf told police that at least 20 armed protesters threatened to shoot him, and referred to them as “savages” who hang out in “Section 8 housing.” He’d return later that evening with a .22-caliber air rifle, using the slurs again and advancing toward the fleeing protestors.

“If you come over here I’m going to shoot you,” he said at one point, according to the lawsuit. “I’ll kill all you f*g nrs.”


After the encounter, Elmendorf got into his vehicle and drove away before being stopped by local police. The police officer recovered the air rifle and arrested and charged him on two counts of second-degree menacing, according to local ABC News affiliate News 10.

Elmendorf has had a rocky year. Later last summer, he was fined $10,000 for not following COVID-19 guidelines. He eventually had to close down his shop in October, according to the Washington Post. Around the same time, Elmendorf allegedly stabbed a private investigator with a ballpoint pen after being served legal documents, according to News 10.

James is looking to bar Elmendorf from brandishing a weapon within 1,000 feet of future peaceful protests. She’s also looking to force him to pay a $500 fine for each time he violated a demonstrator’s right to protest.

Elmendorf’s attorney, James Mermigis, told VICE News that his client denies all of the allegations. 

“My client is not a racist. He doesn’t have a racist bone in his body,” the attorney said in a phone interview. “His recent girlfriend was a transgender Hispanic. This guy is not some kind of white supremacist or any of that kind of stuff.”

Mermigis said that the text messages, which he called “downright horrible,” were manufactured by the Schenectady County attorney Chris Gardner as a result of a dispute with his client over COVID-19 rules, and Elmendorf claims to have never used any racist language during the confrontation with protesters.

“I can assure you these messages were not manufactured by the county attorney. They were posted all over Facebook and attributed to him and consistent with his behavior,” Gardner told VICE News. “This is another false statement made by David Elmendorf, who has continually made false statements throughout this proceeding. I think his behavior speaks for itself.”

The law, which was first floated in the New York Senate in 2018, passed last June following the Christian Cooper incident in Central Park. The legislation had overwhelming support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and passed in a vote of 56-6.

Source: vice.com

This Shop Owner Allegedly Lied About Being Threatened by BLM. He’s Now Facing a Hate Crime.