Newsletter: Stopping Hate Crimes
This summer, OAG held a series of civil rights listening sessions across the District, and in every session, we heard concerns about bias-motivated violence against the LGBTQ+ community and the rise of anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant violence. Every District resident deserves to feel safe being their authentic self, but it’s clear that many of our residents fear for their safety with the alarming rise of hate crimes in the District.
To better protect all District residents, our office recently proposed legislation that would allow OAG to hold offenders of hate crimes accountable and help survivors. Our proposed legislation would allow OAG to bring civil actions against anyone who commits hate crimes to seek restitution for the victim and civil penalties from the perpetrator. This legislation brings District law in line with the trend in other states and will help us send a clear message that this type of violence is not tolerated in D.C.
Our office recently testified before the D.C. Council in support of eliminating the so-called "panic defense" which some defendants use as an excuse for committing crime based on a victim's identity, particularly in the LGBTQ+ community. This is not an excuse and only opens these communities up to further violence.
One of my top priorities is keeping D.C. residents safe. That’s why I’ll keep advocating for solutions like these that can help us end the scourge of hate crimes harming the District’s most vulnerable communities.
Karl A. Racine
After 95 years, the District of Columbia is once again home to Major League Baseball champions! Fans packed downtown on a beautiful Saturday this past weekend to welcome the Washington Nationals home with a rousing celebratory parade. We are so proud of the Nats for staying in the fight and bringing home the third national sports championship for the District in two years—more proof that DC really is the sports capital.
Teaching Students About Healthy Relationships
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately one in 10 high school students nationally report being a victim of physical or sexual violence from a romantic partner each year. OAG believes everyone deserves happy and healthy relationships and works to stop domestic and dating violence in the District. Last week, OAG presented an interactive lesson at Paul Public Charter School on healthy relationships, how to recognize different types of abuse, and how kids can get help if they need it. In October alone, OAG spoke to over 700 District students about consent and healthy relationships. If you would like to request one of these trainings at your school, please email OAGCommunity@dc.gov.
Stopping Illegal Short-Term Apartment Rentals
AG Racine announced last week that Ginosi USA—a hospitality chain—is banned from offering illegal short-term apartment rentals in the District. Ginosi illegally cut into D.C.’s viable long-term housing supply by turning apartment building units into hotel-like rentals and failed to pay District sales taxes that they collected from guests. As part of OAG’s settlement, Ginosi is required to pay nearly $730,000 in unpaid sales taxes, interest, and penalties, and must give advanced notice to OAG if they intend to sell any other goods or services in the District for the next ten years. Consumers who believe they have been defrauded or experienced unfair businesses practices may report it to OAG by calling (202) 442-9892, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or submitting a complaint online.
Outlawing Natural Hair Discrimination for 42 Years
Everyone deserves the right to proudly wear their natural hair, but Black Americans have long faced many forms of hair discrimination. In fact, a recent survey found that Black women are 80 percent more likely to feel they must change their natural hair to fit in at the workplace. But did you know that the District banned hair discrimination nearly 42 years ago? This means you cannot be discriminated against for having a beard, curls, locs, Bantu knots, fades, twists, afros, braids, wigs, or other hair styles. Learn more about how District law protects natural hair.
Fighting Housing Discrimination Online
Many District residents struggle to find safe and affordable places to live, and when landlords discriminate, it only makes it harder. Last week, OAG and Apartments.com announced a new effort to fight housing discrimination in online rental advertisements nationwide. In collaboration with OAG, Apartments.com has implemented a new filter that rejects online ads that include phrases like “no vouchers” or “no Section 8.” If you experience discrimination of any kind, report it to OAG by emailing OAGCivilRights@dc.gov or calling (202) 727-3400. You can also file a complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights by filling out an online form or calling (202) 727-4559.
Working with OAG
Are you someone who is committed to helping the District and promoting the public interest? Join the OAG Team! You can find OAG job opportunities at oag.dc.gov/careers.