Making DC Safer, in the Short and Long Term

Dear neighbors,

My heart goes out to all the families impacted by gun violence across the District in recent weeks. Families are afraid when sending their kids to school, walking down the street, or having a meal outside, and that is not okay. Many of our neighbors live with that fear every day, and many of our neighbors are just waking up to it. It’s clear the District needs to do better, and we at the Office of the Attorney General remain committed to doing our part.

Let me explain the role of my office: Because DC lacks statehood, we have the authority to prosecute juvenile crimes and some less serious crimes committed by adults. We are doing everything we can, given those limits, to address the recent uptick in violent crime, including gun violence, in DC and across the country.

To make our communities safer, we need to address public safety and stop gun violence both in the short and long terms. We need to hold those who commit crimes accountable right now. But acts of crime are just the tip of the iceberg. To really improve public safety, we also need to stop crimes from happening in the first place. Here are some ways our office is working to help stop gun violence and improve public safety:

  • We are holding kids accountable when they commit serious crimes—just as we do in every case where we have the strong evidence to charge them. But the fact is, kids are not committing most of the violent crimes in DC—they make up only 7% of the arrests in our city.
  • We are working to stop the flow of illegal guns into the District, including by suing a leading manufacturer of ghost guns. We have some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but too many guns are still flowing into the District from other jurisdictions that do not regulate them. Learn about our efforts cracking down on ghost guns here.
  • We are expanding our Cure the Streets violence interruption program by adding four new program sites. This program is working to stop violence before it starts in neighborhoods that data shows have experienced high rates of gun violence. We will soon have 10 operating sites across the District, and they are changing norms around gun violence in these communities. Learn more about the program here.
  • We are advocating for legislation to give our public safety officers the resources and support they need, like access to mental health care. We want our public safety officers to have access to these resources so they can better serve our communities and keep us safe. For the second time in the past five years, we worked with a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general, to seek more support for public safety officers and their families.
  • We are also working to address the root causes of crime in the long term—familial disfunction, housing instability, poverty, lack of education, and lack of afterschool activities for our young people. We do this kind of work with our ATTEND program that supports families who are struggling with school attendance, as well as our lawsuits promoting housing justice and improving safety at housing properties with chronic violence and security issues, advocacy for equitable local and federal policy, outreach to DC youth and support for out of school time programs, and much more.

Our most important role is to help protect our neighbors—and we take that job very seriously. We need a proactive, coordinated, District-wide plan that addresses what’s happening now and also looks to make our city safer well into the future.

We’ll continue to keep you up to date on our public safety efforts in the coming weeks and months.

Thank you,

Karl A. Racine
Attorney General 


Investigating the Washington Commanders and Dan Snyder

I’m deeply troubled by details of misconduct by the Washington Commanders and Dan Snyder that we have seen in extensive public reporting and Congressional investigations. My office has been investigating since last fall—and we have already obtained over half a million pages of documents.

The Commanders’ players and employees, and District residents, deserve a thorough investigation that determines exactly what happened. We won't hesitate to hold anyone accountable for illegal conduct, and we encourage those who experienced or witnessed misconduct related to the Commanders to contact our office at OAGCivilRights@dc.govRead more about our investigation in the Washington Post.


We’ve Been Busy Meeting with Residents in the Community this Spring

community events

During the last two weeks, my team and I joined events all over the District, from Ward 1 to Ward 8. I spoke with middle school boys at Jefferson Middle School about service to our communities and how my time in middle school helped set me on the right path. My team held a Spring Resource Fair at Patterson Elementary as part of our ATTEND program addressing truancy. And, I joined a forum in Columbia Heights to speak with community members about Cure the Streets coming to the neighborhood and how we are working to make our communities safer.

Great to see everyone this month!


Our Newly Unsealed Google Complaint Shows Google Employees…Agreeing with Us


Earlier this year, we sued Google for deceiving users and invading their privacy with its confusing location settings. Google claims that changing your device and account settings protects your data. The truth is, since 2014, Google has systematically surveilled users no matter what settings they choose. Our complaint was recently unsealed and it shows several Google employees agreeing with us: Google’s location settings are “definitely confusing,” and Google used dark patterns—subtle design tricks intended to influence users—to invade users’ privacy. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Read more about our lawsuit in the New York Times.


Federal Government Treats Incarcerated District Residents Unfairly

The federal Bureau of Prisons has custody of nearly all incarcerated District residents, but it treats our neighbors differently based on whether they are convicted under District or federal law. In effect, DC residents convicted of DC crimes are more likely to be placed in high-security prisons, exposed to greater violence while in prison, and have access to fewer opportunities for education, employment, and other programs. All of this comes back to the District’s lack of statehood. I filed a brief in a lawsuit brought by DC’s Public Defender Service, arguing that this illegal, discriminatory treatment needs to stop.

Not only is it harmful and unfair to individual DC residents, but it endangers our whole community. Incarcerated DC residents deserve equal access to services and programming that help them reintegrate when they return home. That’s the right thing to do, and it’s the best thing for the safety of our community.


Raising Awareness of Red Flags this Child Abuse Prevention Month

child abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, so we’re sharing red flags to look out for to help protect District kids. Learn the signs to look out for in the graphic above, and call DC's Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) at 202-671-7233 to report abuse and be connected with resources.

My office works with CFSA as legal counsel, and during the last fiscal year, we were able to help reunify more than 120 kids with their families and found adoptive homes for nearly 100 others. As advocates for the District's most vulnerable residents, keeping kids safe is our top priority. Help us spread the word about child abuse red flags by sharing this graphic today.


Keeping Up Our Fight Against Amazon’s Illegal Monopoly Power


We recently asked the court to reconsider its decision to dismiss our Amazon lawsuit, and we’re confident the law and facts are on our side. There’s a similar lawsuit in Seattle that a federal judge allowed to go forward, and ours should be allowed to do the same. Just this week, the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division took the unprecedented step of also urging the court to reconsider its decision, and pointed out several “errors” in the judgement, which is big news for our case.

Last year, we filed this lawsuit to stop Amazon’s illegal anticompetitive behavior that hurts consumers and DC businesses that sell on the platform. Since then, we’ve learned even more about Amazon’s illegal monopoly power, and how businesses have almost no choice but to sell on Amazon. But once they start to sell on the platform, these businesses must enter agreements to never sell their products for less than they are Amazon. That increases prices for everyone.

District residents deserve a fair marketplace that promotes competition, innovation, and choice—not one that’s rigged against them. In our Big Tech lawsuits, companies like Amazon are throwing everything they have at us to try to stop us from standing up for DC consumers. But we’re not going anywhere.


Celebrating DC Emancipation Day Earlier this Month

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated Emancipation Day in DC. Slavery is central to the District’s history: DC was one of the country’s busiest slave ports, and enslaved people were imprisoned near the National Mall. Reflecting on our history is key to moving forward and ensuring that we don’t repeat it. If you missed it, watch my video about the history of Emancipation Day, or read my Medium post that dives deeper into the history of slavery in DC.