Newsletter: Protecting Peaceful Protests
Protest in D.C. following the killing of George Floyd by Ted Eytan licensed under Creative Commons.
Today, as the District reels from a night of chaos sparked by a tyrannical president, local government must offer a promise to all residents: we are with you, and we will protect you.
The entire country watched as Donald Trump ordered federal law enforcement and military police to assault peaceful protesters and clergy exercising their constitutional rights—unconscionably, for a photo opportunity. He intended to shift the conversation away from police brutality. Instead, he gave it a prime-time screening.
In the District, we are now reckoning with an unhinged president responding to nonviolent demonstration with war-like tactics. District residents are frightened by what this show of federal force may portend—whether tear gas, rubber bullets, and low-flying helicopters will give way to more destructive means. The moment demands a unified response from local leaders and law enforcement. We—the Mayor, the Council, OAG, and MPD—must commit to standing in between our community and the boot of tyranny. And we must act on this commitment. We must start by promising to defend our residents from harm while they engage in peaceful, nonviolent protest.
To MPD’s credit, our local officers have made significant progress on this front. Of the 250 people arrested for curfew violations last night, 237 were issued citations and released. That is a significant decrease over past protests, and demonstrates a better, peaceful way to police nonviolent offenses. And, when the public has raised questions about the actions of our local police—including the circumstances related to the activity on Swann Street NW—the Chief, as well as other oversight authorities, pledged to review the matter.
No resident should be subject to use of force of any kind over a nonviolent offense like a curfew violation, especially during a protest over police brutality. These interactions should be opportunities to model calm, respectful police-civilian interactions. What is more, our work here and nationwide cannot end with better police treatment towards protesters. We need new, community-based policing norms that treat all people better. We must make a true effort to finally reckon with America’s original sin.
Not too long ago, mobs of white Americans regularly lynched black Americans in broad daylight. Today’s extrajudicial killings are documented with cell phone cameras. These incidents deserve our outrage. And that outrage, properly channeled, is where we can find hope for a more just future. Americans across the country—white, black, Asian, Latinx, young and old alike—understand that not only have we failed to adequately address systemic racism, but that, in the absence of real reform, the cycle of police killing, protest, and unrest will persist.
We must encourage our citizens to peacefully demand solutions. We must listen to their calls. And we must act to break the cycle.
Karl A. Racine
Writing a New Future of Racial Justice
The killing of George Floyd on May 25 has saddened, angered, and moved our nation to call for action. Without credible, nonpartisan and selfless leadership at the national level, we must write down our vision of a better future. For me, this vision includes restorative justice, arresting only high-risk individuals and issuing citations to others, and community-based violence reduction programs. Read my op-ed in the Washington Post about how I believe we can build a new future of racial, social, and economic justice for the District.
Combating Hate and Xenophobia
As COVID-19 spreads across the country, so does misinformation, hatred, and xenophobia, often inflamed by the reckless rhetoric of weak leaders who see personal gain in our division. AG Racine and Connecticut AG William Tong wrote in The Hill about the kind of leadership it takes to combat hate and bring our country together. You can also watch OAG’s #Take30 series about the rise of hate and extremism during COVID-19 with special guests AG William Tong and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.
Worker Win: Instacart To Expand Covid-19 Paid Sick Leave
Instacart will expand its company-wide COVID-19 paid sick leave policy in order to address the OAG’s desire to expand protections for workers and protect public health. The on-demand grocery delivery company will immediately expand eligibility for paid sick leave, offer free telemedicine for workers with COVID-19 symptoms, provide childcare assistance to some D.C. workers, and donate $50,000 to the Capital Area Food Bank. This new policy will ensure that sick workers can stay home and seek care, and it protects their colleagues, consumers and the public during this crisis.
Supporting First Responders and Their Families During COVID-19
First responders are protecting and caring for our neighbors who have been stricken by COVID-19, and they have sacrificed their lives doing so. The least we can do is provide disability benefits to these first responders or death and education benefits to their surviving families. AG Racine recently co-led a coalition of 52 Attorneys General urging Congress to pass the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act, which provides first responders and their families access to these critical federal benefits.
June 5: Celebrate D.C. Students Writing to Stop Violence
To mark Gun Violence Awareness Month, join OAG on Friday, June 5 at 11:00 a.m. for a virtual ceremony honoring D.C. middle school students participating in the “Do the Write Thing” Challenge, a national essay contest that gives middle school students the chance to speak out about violence and make recommendations on how to stop it. Register at oag.dc.gov/DTWTCeremony.
WIN: Energy Company to Pay $2.5M for Polluting Potomac River
Over the last two years and with support from the DC Council, OAG has deployed additional resources to protect the environment and the health of District residents. Last week, AG Racine secured a settlement requiring GenOn, a fossil-fuel energy company, to pay $2.5 million to the District to resolve allegations that one of its powerplants illegally discharged oil and other pollutants directly into the Potomac River. Report violations of environmental law in the District by calling 311 or using the 311 mobile app.
Cure the Streets Working to Stop the Spread of Violence and Coronavirus
OAG’s Cure the Streets violence interrupters in Wards 5, 7, and 8 are working to stop the spread of violence and COVID-19 in their communities. During last week’s #Take30 episode, we heard from local experts about violence interruption in the District, implementing restorative justice services, and resolving community-based trauma. Click here to watch this important discussion.
Apply for Child Support Online
Child support is more important than ever amid the economic turmoil caused COVID-19. OAG’s Child Support Services has a new online application for parents seeking assistance. By completing the easy online form, Child Support Services can help establish paternity, locate a parent, secure a child support court order, collect child support payments, and establish health insurance benefits. If you have any questions, please contact Child Support Services at (202) 442-9900 or email email@example.com.