Judge dismisses Black Irondequoit town board member’s discrimination case 

click to enlarge Irondequoit Town Boardmember Patrina Freeman in 2021. Also pictured are Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, left, and former county Legislator Joe Morelle Jr.


Irondequoit Town Boardmember Patrina Freeman in 2021. Also pictured are Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, left, and former county Legislator Joe Morelle Jr.

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by Patrina Freeman, the first Black member of the Irondequoit Town Board, who alleged discrimination by the board and town administration.

The complaint, filed last March, alleged that the former acting town supervisor, John Perticone, and a current Town Board member, Kimie Romeo, stifled Freeman’s efforts to spearhead a racial equity program, intimidated her by encouraging the presence of armed, white off-duty police officers at town meetings, and required her to pay out of pocket for materials related to her work. She had sought $1 million in damages.

Those claims were specifically related to the Irondequoit Commission on Advancing Racial Equity (ICARE), a town organization helmed by Freeman that aims to promote social justice causes in Irondequoit. In the complaint, Freeman alleged the town actively thwarted ICARE by refusing to allow the group to use town boardrooms or create a website on its behalf.

Freeman was elected in 2019.

U.S. District Judge David Larimer rejected the case, arguing that Freeman’s complaint was less about discrimination than it was about attempting to reverse the board’s actions on ICARE.

“No matter how these claims are clothed, they clearly are designed to seek judicial intervention to correct and rectify the board’s negative actions involving ICARE,” the decision reads. “Defendants have contended from the outset that this lawsuit is not truly about any violation of a constitutional right, but rather plaintiff’s attempt to use the court to advance her legislative agenda that has, to some extent, been derailed by the board or some members of it.”

Larimer also found that Freeman’s claims of discrimination were on behalf of groups that were not constitutionally protected. For example, the complaint alleged Romeo and Perticone were attempting to restrict Freeman’s ability to aid “Black potential homeowners.”

“It is hard to imagine anything more vague or illusory,” his decision read. “Advancing the claim on behalf of ‘Black potential homeowners’ is not sustainable. There is no such legally identifiable group.”

Reached by phone, Freeman’s lawyer, Nate McMurray, said he had not heard about the dismissal but that he planned on filing another case, building off events of the past five months.

In October of last year, McMurray filed a notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, against the town on behalf of Freeman, alleging that Town Supervisor Rory Fitzpatrick slammed a door on her arm, breaking her wrist.

“I’m not disheartened at all,” McMurray said. “This is all part of the litigation process.”

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or [email protected].

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