New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed the first lawsuit pertaining to a race-based police report. The lawsuit hones in on a report in which a former ice cream store owner claims Black Lives Matter protesters threatened him. The legal complaint claims that former ice cream store owner David Elmendorf broke the law by issuing “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 initial incident began when Elmendorf was rumored to have sent a series of racist texts. After hearing of what took place, protesters began demonstrating near Elmendorf's ice cream shop, Bumpy’s Polar Freeze in Schenectady, New York. On the night of June 30, 2020, Elmendorf called the police and claimed that 20 Black Lives Matter protesters had approached him and threatened him. However, officers arrived and found no cause to arrest anyone. Instead, further investigation suggested that Elmendorf approached Black protesters sitting at a nearby home and began verbally and physically threatening them.
“Elmendorf physically and verbally threatened a group of Black protesters who stood peacefully on the porch of a private house near Bumpy’s,” including by shouting racial slurs, prior to the 911 call," the lawsuit from the office Letitia James states.
This lawsuit comes months after a white woman named Amy Cooper filed a false police report claiming that a Black birdwatcher had threatened her in Central Park. Months later, state legislators made it illegal for someone to file a false police report in an attempt to intimidate someone because of their race.
“[This lawsuit 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.
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