A Black man has filed a racial discrimination claim against a Portland, Oregon, gas station after an employee refused to sell him gas, implying he would use it to start fires at the Black Lives Matter protests taking place in Portland.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Dominique DeWeese, 37, filed a $350,000 lawsuit against Jay’s Garage, after a white attendant refused to sell him a gallon of gas in July. Oregon generally allows self-service gasoline pumping only in counties of populations of no higher than 40,000 people, far smaller than Portland.
According to DeWeese, the attendant expressed concern that he might use the gas to start fires at the Portland protests where some demonstrators set buildings ablaze. DeWeese says he intended to use the gas for yard work.
Cellphone footage of the incident shows the attendant telling DeWeese he won’t sell him any gas unless it goes directly into a lawn mower or car.
Greg Kafoury’s Portland law firm is representing DeWeese. His lawyers told The Oregonian, which obtained a copy of the footage, that the video is the strongest piece of evidence.
“So are you picking and choosing who to sell gasoline to?” DeWeese asked the attendant.
“That’s right,” the attendant said. “Yeah.”
“OK, why aren’t you selling gasoline to me? Dude, I live up the block. I’m putting gasoline in my lawnmower and I have moles. I’m putting gasoline in the mole holes on my property. So why are you not you selling me gasoline?” DeWeese continued.
“There are Dumpster fires all over town,” the attendant said.
“What does that have to do with you selling me gas?” DeWeese asked.
“I’m just doing my part to keep down the fires in town,” the attendant said.
DeWeese also turned to other patrons in the store and accused the attendant of racially profiling him. He said he experiences racism often and described his experiences as PTSD-like.
Kafoury’s law firm is also representing several other Black clients who say they were subjected to racial discrimination at stores. He said he has received more calls from people with claims of racial profiling and discrimination recently, and he blames the uptick on an increase in “unapologetic racism.”
One client named Rose Wakefield said she pulled up to a gas sation at Jacksons Food Stores in March and the attendant served white custmers who showed up after her without serving her. When she inquired, the employee responded: “I don’t serve Blacks.”
The firm filed six similar claims against Portland-area businesses in 2015, and another $500,000 claim in 2018 after two Black teens were wrongfully accused of stealing merchandise at Sunglass Hut.