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Black Portlander sues gas station over racial discrimination

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Dominique DeWeese was refused service in July 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) A local law firm has filed several lawsuits against stores in the Portland metro area for allegedly targeting black customers based on their skin color.

The “all-black shopping” suits were announced this week. One of the alleged victims says she was banned from buying gasoline by a white gas station attendant and caught the discrimination on video.

Dominique DeWeese was denied gas at a Southeast Portland gas station, July 29, 2020 (KOIN)

Dominique DeWeese said in the lawsuit filed Wednesday that he asked the attendant at Jay’s Garage in Portland in July for a gallon of gasoline in a container. DeWeese says the attendant refused and says he implied he didn’t want to give DeWeese the chance to set the fire.

DeWeese told KOIN 6 News he was trying to get gasoline for his lawn mower and take care of the mole holes, which he explained to the station attendant. But DeWeese said the man wouldn’t listen.

“I live a few blocks away, I go there all the time and he refused me service, asked me if I was a black life protester, a rioter,” DeWeese said. . “I said ‘no, I’m just here to fill up with gas’.”

DeWeese is the Volunteer Recruitment Director for the Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach program. He has filed a $ 350,000 racial discrimination complaint against the station and hopes that legal action will result in greater accountability.

“Just because of what’s going on in politics, you think you’re allowed to be that way now, you’re allowed to say whatever you want, to behave the way you want,” DeWeese said. “It isn’t. You are going to have to be held responsible.”

Miles DeWhitt, owner of Jay’s Garage, shared the following statement with KOIN 6 News:

“Once we were made aware of the situation that arose on July 28, we laid off the employee the same day. Denying customer service is against our company policy. ”

DeWeese’s attorney, Jason Kafoury, said four lawsuits involving blacks who were denied service had been brought.

“Our law firm has been dealing with civil rights cases for decades,” he said. “We have never seen so many people, literally and openly discriminated against simply because they are black.”

One of the other lawsuits involves Rose Wakefield. She claims that an attendant at a Jacksons store in Beaverton would not refuel his car. After some effort, she said she was able to get help from a store employee. But as she was leaving, Wakefield said she confronted the attendant who refused to help her and he told her, “I don’t serve black people.

Russ Stoddard, a spokesperson for Jacksons, told KOIN 6 News: “At Jacksons, we do not condone racism or prejudice in any way. We have yet to see the legal complaint about this specific incident. Once we do, we will look at it and respond appropriately when we have a better understanding of the facts of the case. ”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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