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BIPOC grant program in Alexandria delayed after lawsuit claiming discrimination against white people

Tridentis expresses that businesses in the city that want to apply for the program but is excluded should be entitled to relief.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The city of Alexandria is delaying the launch of a small business grant program geared towards people of color after being hit with a lawsuit.

The grant was developed after many businesses struggled and are still recovering in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city said the hardships are particularly felt by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) owned businesses due to structural barriers and discriminatory financial lending practices. 

The Alexandria BIPOC Small Business Program is an initiative set to help retain and grow existing businesses, recruit new businesses as well as assist with start-up activities, according to their website. 

But, on Jan. 23, the city announced the halt to the program due to the lawsuit brought forward by Trindetis, LLC. 

"We are currently reviewing the details of the lawsuit challenging the BIPOC Small Business Grant Program. The suit was filed in Federal Court and details can be found through the PACER resource," the city said. "As we evaluate the lawsuit, the Program will be put on hold. However, we want to reiterate the city is committed to serving all Alexandrians; we also remain focused on our responsibility to find equitable solutions that address the needs of our diverse small business community." 

Tridentis, whose owner is white, is not eligible for the program. The lawsuit states that to be eligible for the city's program, a business must demonstrate that its owners are at least 51% black, indigenous, or people of color. 

"These BIPOC owners must come from one of four groups—Black or African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, or Indigenous or Native American," the lawsuit said. "In other words, no whites allowed." 

The lawsuit continued by saying that the program is 'blatantly illegal.' 

In the lawsuit, the company states that The Equal Protection Clause prohibits Alexandria from discriminating based on race and this program is expressing exclusion. Tridentis expresses that businesses in the city that want to apply for the program but is excluded should be entitled to relief.

Following relief is being requested:

  • A declaratory judgment that Defendant’s BIPOC Small Business Grant Program violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
  • A temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction barring Defendant from opening the application period, closing the application period, selecting grant recipients, or enforcing its racially discriminatory eligibility criteria for the BIPOC Small Business Grant Program. 
  • A permanent injunction barring Defendant from enforcing its racially discriminatory eligibility criteria for the program. 
  • Nominal damages. 
  • Reasonable costs and expenses of this action, including attorneys’ fees, under 42 U.S.C. §1988 and any other applicable laws. 
  • And all other relief that Tridentis is entitled to.

Watch Next: Learn about the city of Alexandria's deep-rooted slave trade history.

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