Announcing Lawsuit Against January 6 Insurrectionists
On Tuesday, OAG filed the first civil lawsuit brought by a state or municipal government against the January 6 insurrectionists who caused extensive damage to the District, and particularly the brave men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) who risked their lives to defend the Capitol, the District, and our democracy.
The lawsuit seeks to hold legally accountable the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, and their individuals and leaders for planning, publicizing, recruiting for, and financing the violent attack. We’re seeking to prevent such a violent attack from ever happening again. And we’re seeking justice for the brave law enforcement officers.
This lawsuit aims to hit the organizers, planners, and participants in their wallets and purses to deter and dismantle their ability to strike again. It seeks substantial financial damages to obtain restitution and recompense for victims—including law enforcement officers, many of whom continue to suffer physical and mental trauma—and for the District itself.
January 6 was a brazen, violent, deadly attack that traumatized this city, this community, and this country. And no one bore the brunt of this gutless attack more than the courageous law enforcement officers, including the men and women of the MPD who went into the fire and violence with one objective in mind: remove the violent mob and restore our country’s fragile democracy.
While some desperately want to rewrite history and downplay the events of January 6, the District of Columbia and its residents have chosen to speak the truth through Tuesday’s legal filing.
To learn more about the case, read this Washington Post article.
Karl A. Racine
New Algorithmic Bias Bill
Last week, I introduced landmark legislation to strengthen civil rights protections for District residents by prohibiting companies and institutions from using algorithms that produce biased or discriminatory results and lock individuals, especially members of vulnerable communities, out of critical opportunities like jobs and housing.
It’s the first legislation that tackles the bias inherent in algorithms. It holds businesses accountable for preventing biases in their automated decision-making algorithms and requires them to report and correct algorithms that have shown biases.
Discriminatory algorithms can impact individuals’ everyday lives, including the schools they can go to, the cars they buy, the homes they can purchase, the loans they seek, and the jobs they are hired for.
To root out discrimination in automated decision-making tools, my bill would make it illegal for businesses and organizations to use discriminatory algorithms in four key areas of life opportunities: education, employment, housing, and public accommodations including credit, health care, and insurance.
Here are a few examples of how algorithmic bias harms marginalized communities:
- At least 55% of human resources professionals in the U.S. use predictive algorithms in their hiring processes, from resume scanners to interview analysis to performance predictors. But algorithmic resume scanners prioritize male candidates, are inaccessible to applicants with disabilities, and may de-preference first-generation college graduates.
- Hospitals and insurers use algorithms to help manage health care for about 200 million people in the United States. A study of one widely used hospital algorithm found that it systematically discriminated against Black patients, failing to refer them for care while referring white patients who were equally sick. Unfortunately, discrimination caused by algorithms often goes undetected.
Elder Justice Consumer Alert: Financial Safety During the Holidays
It’s that time of year again! The holiday season has begun and, unfortunately, scammers are ready to take advantage of your generosity. Here are some tips from my office about how to keep your money safe this time of year: watch out for scammers pretending to be a grandchild or family member; beware of clicking links for deals that seem too good to be true; research charities through independent sources before donating; and be suspicious if merchants ask for payment in gift cards. As always, please reach out to my office if you have been the victim of a scam. To contact our Elder Justice unit, email ElderJustice@dc.gov or call 202-727-3807. Or you can email Consumer.Protection@dc.gov or call 202-727-3400. Read more tips here.
Standing Up for Vulnerable Tenants
On Monday, I announced that my office had five significant and recent wins in lawsuits brought to defend vulnerable District residents from neglectful slumlords, dangerous living conditions, and housing discrimination. The lawsuits resulted in record-breaking refunds to tenants, the dissolution of a local slumlord’s company, and penalties against landlords that violate District lead laws and set groundbreaking civil rights precedent. Those who discriminate against housing applicants or force tenants to live in squalor, such as in conditions replete with mold, lead, and other hazards, will be held accountable. My colleagues and I will continue to launch investigations and, where appropriate, bring lawsuits against landlords that violate these basic requirements without regard to whether they are well connected, wealthy, or affiliated with a faith-based entity. Protecting all residents, without regard to their wealth, race, or age, is not only my legal obligation; it is the reason I wanted to serve as attorney general.
Protecting the Public Interest in Zoning and Development Cases
Earlier this month, my office announced that we are taking on a new role in the zoning, land use, and related development processes: advocating for affordable housing, racial equity, and environmental justice. Previously, my office was required to provide confidential legal counsel to the Zoning Commission or Board of Zoning Adjustment around land use and development in the District—responsibilities that have now been transferred to the Office of Zoning allowing OAG to advocate for District residents in these matters instead. My office has always had tremendous expertise in complex issues of zoning and land use, and I’m proud that we are now able to use this knowledge to level the playing field between wealthy developers and long-term residents. And we’re already taking action to help address housing affordability for long-term District residents. Read more from DCist.
DC Parents: Don't Wait, Vaccinate!
Children ages 5 through 11 are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is safe and free, and you do not need to have health insurance to receive it.
The vaccine will help keep kids safe by preventing infection and by reducing the virus’s impact if they are infected. It will also help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to other families and community members. I encourage District families to discuss the vaccine with their health care providers.
To learn more about where your children can receive a vaccine, visit coronavirus.dc.gov. You will find dates and times for COVID-19 vaccine clinics for children ages 5 through 11 there.
Click here to find a list of pediatric vaccination clinics throughout DC, which includes dates up until December 23.
Click here to find other opportunities to receive a vaccination, including at pharmacies and health clinics across all eight wards. If you are unable to leave your home, call 1-855-363-0333, and the vaccine will be brought to you.
For any questions regarding the vaccine program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voices from Across My Office
At OAG, we’re proud of the broad array of work we do on behalf of the District and the hundreds of employees who make our agency run. “Voices from Across My Office” is a blog series that highlights some of the people behind our efforts and the variety of work they do to support, defend, and stand up for District residents. So far, we have spotlighted my office’s Family Services Division, the Commercial Division, the Personnel, Labor, and Employment Division, the Public Advocacy Division, the Child Support Services Division, Cure the Streets, the Civil Litigation Division, the Support Services Division, and the Public Safety Division. Learn about some of the people who work in these divisions and the important work they do for District residents. Follow my Medium Page for more.
Holding Facebook Accountable for False Claims About Removing Hate Speech
My office filed a brief urging the Superior Court of the District of Columbia not to grant technology platforms sweeping immunity from local consumer protection law, and to allow a private lawsuit challenging Facebook’s deceptive claims about its content moderation practices to move forward. The case concerns the tech platform’s misrepresentations about removing hate speech from its platform, and we urged the court to reject Facebook’s efforts to get the case dismissed.
As we know from voluminous documents and sworn testimony provided by former Facebook employees, Facebook and its senior executives know exactly what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. They are bombarding users with hateful and violent content every day—because Facebook cares more about profit than it cares about protecting its consumers and being responsible about hate speech.
Now, Facebook is trying to claim that it—and other massive tech companies—are above the law and cannot be held accountable for their false statements to consumers. But no company is entitled to mislead consumers, and there is nothing in local or federal law that shields companies like Facebook from the consequences of their own deception. Read more from The Washington Post.
Opposing Florida’s Restrictive Voting Law
Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James and I led a group of 17 attorneys general in a friend-of-the court brief in three cases opposing Florida’s discriminatory law that would make it more difficult for millions of Floridians—especially the elderly, disabled, and communities of color—to vote. The myth of voter fraud has been completely debunked, yet we continue to see states, for political reasons, creating laws based on this lie. In reality, these election laws, which supposedly prevent and eliminate voter fraud, simply encourage voter suppression. Black and brown communities, as well as low-income communities and the elderly and disabled, are disproportionately affected by these laws. Read more from The Hill.