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HOUSTON -- Just as Jesse Jackson and civil rights group Rainbow PUSH coalition's claims against BP of price gouging, price manipulation and discriminatory tactics reach a boiling point, BP has responded that the allegations of discrimination are false.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition, founded by Rev. Jesse Jackson, launched protests at numerous BP stations across the country starting on June 24 to drive down the price of gas. Over the last week, Rev. Al Sharpton and FOX news commentator Bill O'Reilly has voiced their support of the protest, reported The Common Voice.
Jackson's discrimination accusations focus around DAG Petroleum's bid that was rejected for a supplier/distributor contract in the Washington, DC area. In 2001, The Associated Press reported that DAG Petroleum also sued ExxonMobil for $10 billion in 1999 when it claimed that its bid for 1,200 stations was rejected on a basis of discrimination.
Jackson also accuses BP of lacking any African American distributors or executives. The coalition also states that while BP has the largest share of the African American market, its discriminatory practices amount to a "virtual lock out of African American businesses and consumers."
BP has told CSNews Online that Jackson's allegations of discrimination are false. Scott Dean, spokesman for BP said "BP is committed to having a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture, because we believe it strengthens our business and is the right thing to do."
Dean also told CSNews Online that:
-- About 20 percent of 1,800 dealers and franchisees come from various minority backgrounds, including African Americans.
-- Two members of the BP board of directors are African American.
-- Based on 2005 data filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 614 or 9.6 percent of BP's officials and managers, including vice presidents are from minority groups.
-- In addition 14.5 percent of U.S. BP employees are African American.
-- Among its 600 distributors, several are from minority groups.
Dean also said that BP had contacted numerous minority groups, including Rev. Jackson, to seek input to further minority participation in its business. In addition, BP also sponsored Rainbow PUSH's 2006 national conference in Chicago for the second year, as well as Rainbow PUSH's Wall Street Project in New York in early 2006.
"To reject BP's past funding of Rainbow PUSH is a decision for its leadership to make," Dean told CSNews Online.