Hello District Neighbors,
The Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade revoked a 50-year-old constitutionally guaranteed right to abortion. Millions of patients and potential patients must now navigate a patchwork of state policies that, depending on where they live, could leave them without access to critical health care.
This decision will impact the lives of millions of women and patients across the country. We know 26 states are poised to or have already banned abortion. And more than a quarter of the nearly 800 abortion clinics across the country are shutting down because of the Court’s decision.
But let’s make one thing clear: abortion is still legal in the District of Columbia and the recent Supreme Court decision did not change that. If you’re wondering how this decision does and doesn’t impact you and your loved ones, here’s information for DC residents, visitors to DC, and DC-based medical providers.
The District’s fight for autonomy and statehood is intertwined with our fight for abortion access. Without statehood, the federal government could decide to change our strong abortion laws. Our office will do everything in its power to defend and strengthen the right to abortion in the District so that everyone can choose whether, when, and how to create a family.
And there is still much we can and must do to fight for full access to reproductive care. Here are several ways that you can take action, including:
- Spread the word to your loved ones and neighbors that abortion remains legal in DC despite the Court’s decision;
- Support organizations doing critical work to defend access to safe and legal abortions here in the District;
- Ask your friends and family outside the District to call their members of Congress and their local legislators and tell them to pass reproductive rights protections and to support DC statehood;
- Call on businesses to fill the gap where government has failed by allocating resources and putting in place strong reproductive rights policies for their employees;
- Join a peaceful protest supporting access to reproductive health care; and
The fight for reproductive rights and gender equality is not over. Now is the time to have our voices heard here at home and across the country as we stand up for our fundamental rights.
Celebrating a New Chapter for Terrace Manor
This past Thursday, I joined Councilmember Trayon White, members of the Terrace Manor Organized for Change Tenants Association, Bread for the City, the Legal Aid Society, and others at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Terrace Manor apartment complex in Ward 8. Together, we closed a dark chapter in Terrace Manor’s history and celebrated the start of a much brighter future.
Terrace Manor used to be a thriving community with almost all its units occupied by families who lived and played there. But within four years of Sanford Capital buying the property, the company’s neglect caused it to fall into an increasingly dangerous state of disrepair, and 70% of tenants who called Terrace Manor home left.
Our office sued Sanford Capital four times, successfully forcing the company to stop doing business in the District, and obtaining nearly $1 million in restitution for current and former tenants of Sanford Capital’s properties. We also worked closely with the Terrace Manor tenants to find a buyer that would rebuild the complex while keeping it affordable.
I was thrilled to join the tenants and advocates in commemorating this new chapter for Terrace Manor. Because of our collective work, this 61-unit property will grow to 130 units all of which will be affordable.
Office of the Attorney General in the Community
Last week, I joined the Ward 4 Summer Safety Strategic Planning Meeting, hosted by Councilmember Janeese Lewis George at MacFarland Middle School. Every District resident should feel safe in their home and community. There’s no question that the concerns about crime and public safety are palpable right now.
During the meeting, I talked about efforts our office is taking to make our communities safer in both the short and long-term, including opening a new Cure the Streets violence interruption site in Ward 4, which we expect to be operational in a few weeks.
We first launched Cure the Streets because we knew we needed to think creatively about how to help address gun violence and make our communities safer. Cure the Streets violence interrupters and outreach workers are already doing critical community-based gun violence prevention work in neighborhoods with the highest rates of gun violence—and the results we’re seeing are encouraging. Between October 2019 to June 2022 gun homicides in DC are up 64%. But during the same period, gun homicides in Cure the Street sites are down 25%. You can watch the public safety meeting here.
Our Office Testifies on Need to Improve District’s Crime Lab
Last week, our office testified before the DC Council during a hearing on Councilmember Charles Allen’s bill to help address the systemic failures at the Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS), the District’s crime lab. Prosecutors at our office and the United States Attorney’s Office rely on the crime lab to provide unbiased scientific testing, including on DNA, firearm, and fingerprint evidence to prosecute adult and juvenile crime.
For the past two years, our office has been raising the alarm about deficiencies at DFS, including how the serious problems at the crime lab have hurt public safety and undermined the credibility and fairness of the criminal justice system. These issues will cost taxpayers millions of dollars as they shoulder the burden of funding a review of forensic evidence that has been used in criminal cases going back at least a decade.
At the hearing, we urged the Council to pass the bill as a critical step in rehabilitating the District’s crime lab. I’m grateful to Councilmember Allen for introducing the legislation and look forward to continuing to work with him and the rest of the Council to reform DFS and restore the integrity of scientific evidence in the District’s criminal cases. District residents deserve nothing less. Read more from WTOP.
Holding Slumlords and Negligent Property Owners Accountable & Forcing Public Safety Improvements
Anyone who owns a property—a shopping center, gas station, residential building, or any other property—must prioritize DC residents’ safety. And if they don’t, our office will step in and act.
Yesterday, we announced resolutions in three cases against property owners and managers, including one in which the owners of two apartment buildings in Ward 4 will pay the District more than $2 million in penalties for various housing and public safety code violations. We also announced two new lawsuits: one against the owners of a shopping center in Ward 8 to address gun violence and drug activity around the property and another against the owner of a real estate company with apartment complexes in Wards 4 and 8 for persistent housing and public safety code violations.
With these victories and additional lawsuits, our office is continuing its effort to hold slumlords accountable for failing to maintain safe conditions for tenants and community members. You can read more about these cases here.
Join AG Racine and AARP DC for a Virtual Conversation on Elder Justice
The financial exploitation of elders and vulnerable adults unfortunately isn’t new, but during economic downturns and in the face of isolation -- as many experienced during the pandemic -- older District residents become bigger targets for exploitation by trusted people and scams.
RSVP here to join DC Attorney General Karl Racine and DC AARP State Director Louis Davis Jr. on Thursday, July 28 at 6:00pm for a conversation about how the Office of the Attorney General helps protect older District residents from financial abuse and scams and how the office has become a national leader in stopping elder abuse so our older community members can live their golden years with dignity and security.
Sign up to Receive a Report From our Office
I know many of you are loyal readers of this newsletter—because, among other reasons, you made it this far down! If you’re interested in learning more about our office and our work, I invite you to sign up to receive the physical copy of our office’s report this fall. It will provide information on where you can report everything from consumer protection violations to acts of discrimination. It will also show how far the office has come in the last seven years and will include a special message from me as I reflect on my time as Attorney General.