Created: June 28, 2020 11:18 PM
SCHENECTADY - The were angry, energized and passionate about the righteousness of their cause. Hundreds of demonstrators temporarily shutting down State Street in Schenectady Sunday night, determined to permanently shut down Bumpy's Polar Freeze, the popular roadside ice cream stand that's been around for decades.
"We refuse to stand by as we watch white supremacy fly under the radar and then let it be so blatant," says Mikayla Foster, one of the event organizers. "Racism is violence in every single form you could have it."
Bumpy's appeared on the activists' radar screen after racist text messages popped up on social media. News Channel 13 has not been able to authenticate their origin, but Black Lives Matter and other demonstrators are certain Bumpy's owner David Elmendorph is the author.
"Nobody wants to be here protesting," said Aliyah Johnson, another organizer, "but this is something we have to do as a community because we're not allowing this any more."
Within the racist text, the "N" word was used. There was also a narrative that read, "I don't hire black people."
"There's been a long standing history of people talking about experiencing that they've had here in this establishment," said Damonni Farley, of Schenectady, "Whether working here or coming here to get some ice cream, so there's a lot of people talking about that."
Organizers say they'll gage their success by how quickly Bumpy's shuts down, although after the crowd dispersed, it appeared they were able to claim partial victory.
"You know how many other racist employers there probably are?" Shameil McCoy asked rhetorically.
McCoy was one of three black employees who told News Channel 13 they would no longer work at Bumpy's. Messiah Anderson is another.
"There is a certain time in your life with the things and the events that are going on with corona, sometimes you have to choose a side, or sometimes you have to do what's best for you," Anderson stated.
Another young man didn't want to give his name.
"He's no racist," the young man insisted, "There's a couple of things he might have said. I ain't seen no text messages, but from what I know he's a good guy. He always treated me well. He always treated me with respect. I never had no problems out of him."
But the Schenectady County Health Department has had problems at Bumpy's, code violations. But after their "shut down" citation was ripped out of the window, Elmendorph was charged with obstructing governmental administration.
But that's a separate matter.
"There are so many more establishments out here that thrive on white supremacy views and ideologies," said Khalifa Jackson, one of the event organizers, "That's something we shouldn't be giving our money to.
Because of the alleged racial remarks, and because of the alleged disregard for County Health Department orders, Schenectady's County Attorney Chris Gardner has asked the state attorney general to investigate David Elmendorph.
We reached out to Mr. Elmendorph, but by air time hadn't heard back from him.
Copyright 2020 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company