American News Oct 8, 2021 10:02 AM EST

Hispanic business owner sues Oregon for prioritizing black-owned companies for pandemic relief

Maria Garcia, owner of Revolución Coffee in downtown Portland, argued that the Oregon Cares Fund was an unconstitutional act of discrimination since it prioritized black people for assistance.

Hispanic business owner sues Oregon for prioritizing black-owned companies for pandemic relief
Katie Daviscourt Seattle, WA

A settlement has been reached between a Mexican business owner and the state of Oregon after the business owner sued the state for discrimination because the state prioritized COVID-19 relief funds for black-owned businesses.

The state of Oregon exclusively granted black-owned businesses a $62 million coronavirus relief fund, also known as the Oregon Cares Fund.

The decision left other minority-owned business owners angry and desperate, including Maria Garcia of Revolucion Coffee. The terms of the settlement were not yet disclosed, OregonLive reports.

Garcia, owner of the coffee shop in downtown Portland, argued that the Oregon Cares Fund was an unconstitutional act of discrimination since it prioritized black people for assistance over other races. According to court documents, Garcia was forced to shut down her business for three months during the pandemic and said she would have qualified for relief if she were black.

"As there were no funds left in this program there wasn't anything to do but settle this case," Garcia said in a statement. "We will challenge any future efforts by Oregon to divide its citizens by race, which hopefully, everyone now understands is both unfair and illegal."

Earlier in the year, a separate business owner sued the state of Oregon on behalf of non-black business owners under similar complaints. Oregon agreed to set aside $3.5 million of state funds to grant to 1,252 non-black business owners that applied for assistance through the Oregon Cares Fund, OregonLive reports.

The state suspended the Oregon Cares Fund amid ongoing legal battles after distributing $49.5 million to black-owned businesses last year.

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