Our country has a hate problem, and I’m working to address it.
The number of reported hate crimes has reached a record high—the highest we’ve seen in the past 12 years—demonstrating the magnitude of this issue. In 2020 alone, there were 7,759 hate crimes reported to the FBI. In the District, reported hate crimes tripled between 2015 and 2019.
As some of you may know, over the past year, I have been serving as the President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). Launched in December 2020, my Presidential Initiative, The People v. Hate: Standing Up for Humanity, aims to increase awareness of hate and hate-related bias, prevent hate from taking root in our communities, and to support residents who have experienced and who have been impacted by hate. The goal is not to put America on trial, but rather, to put hate on trial.
This week, I hosted the NAAG Presidential Summit, which focused on taking the politics out of hate by bringing together Democratic, Republican, and Independent state and territory attorneys general to address hate and hate-related violence nationwide. Law enforcement leaders, community advocates, survivors of hate, and historians were also in attendance.
The Summit gave us all the opportunity to learn, share, and listen—and to see the humanity that all of us share. As former Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Turpen so eloquently put it: “We’re all part of the multi-ethnic family of humankind.” I couldn’t agree more.
One of the most patriotic steps we can take as leaders is to continue to build on the great American experiment to form a more perfect union. We must send a clear message that the America we are trying to build will not provide a home for hate. And it takes collective and united leadership to make change.
Preventing hate incidents and crimes, and protecting the safety, health, and well-being of our communities should be issues we can all agree on and work together to address. That’s why we all joined together this week.
I’m proud to say that this year’s Summit was a huge success. And I’d like to thank each and every one of you who helped make this event possible. Click here to learn more about the Summit.
Karl A. Racine
Holding Neglectful Landlord Accountable & Providing Relief for Tenants
On Wednesday, I announced that a Columbia Heights landlord will be required to pay nearly $680,000 in restitution and penalties after being found liable for failing to maintain an apartment building. Tenants were forced to live in deplorable conditions that jeopardized their health, safety, and security. The judgement provides more than $422,000 in rent restitution for tenants and requires the landlord to pay $215,000 in penalties for hundreds of housing code violations that persisted at the property for years. My office filed suit against the owners and managers of this building for engaging in a pattern of neglect dating back many years. No tenant should have to live in properties that are in disrepair. Landlords must follow the law and provide residents safe, healthy, and habitable homes. This ruling will provide tenants with relief they deserve and demonstrates that landlords that violate the law will be held accountable. Read more from the Washington Post.
“Together We Rise, Together We Soar!”
Last Thursday, I had the honor of delivering the keynote address at the University of the District of Columbia’s Fall 2021 Convocation. My mother, Marie Marcelle Buteau Racine, taught at UDC for 45 years after fleeing the Duvalier regime in Haiti and coming to the District. She loved UDC and knew it was (and is) the backbone of the District. During my remarks, I took the opportunity to give some advice to the students that I learned from her: There is no substitute for hard work. Use the people and resources around you to invest in your success, and seek out opportunities. And never forget that you belong at UDC – make it your university. I look forward to seeing the impact that each student at UDC will have in the District as our teachers, nurses, musicians, lawyers, and more. I know that their efforts will be critical to the vibrancy, resiliency, and progress of the District. Read more from the Washington Informer.
Wrapping Up of STAY DC Clinics
Last week, we held our final STAY DC clinic. STAY DC is helping DC residents pay their rent and utility bills during these challenging times. Attorneys and staff from my office partnered with local organizations, helping 153 tenants fill out their STAY DC applications during eight clinics held over the past two months. I’d like to give a huge thank you to all the attorneys, staff, and organizations who facilitated this program, which provided a critical lifeline for District families in need.
Joining Kojo Nnamdi on The Politics Hour
In September, I joined The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi, where we talked about my office’s antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, the progress of our Cure the Streets violence interruption program, January 6 prosecutions, and more. Listen to our conversation here.
Leading the Fight for Voting Rights
As Black attorneys general, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and I are continuing to fight voter suppression bills in the courts. These bills are contrived efforts to limit the voices of Black voters. Dating back to Reconstruction, “stopping voter fraud” has been repeatedly used as an excuse to enact restrictive voting laws – even though the myth of widespread voter fraud has been debunked. Yet some states keep using the same old playbook to discriminate against Black voters. We can all agree that states must promote free and fair elections and that states have flexibility to administer elections in ways that ensure voter confidence. What states cannot do, though, is use a seemingly innocuous explanation – like “election integrity” – as a smokescreen for discrimination. We can’t afford to let them turn back the clock, which is why we’re fighting back in court. Read my op-ed with AG James on Crooked Media.
Calling on the Biden Administration to Address Treatment of Haitian Refugees
All of us are appalled by the images of the mistreatment of Haitian refugees at the southern border and the continuation of a callous deportation policy. Last Thursday, I joined 17 other attorneys general in calling on President Biden to find humanitarian solutions to address the Haitian refugee crisis at our border and to cease inhumane deportation policies. I’m encouraged by the administration’s prompt expression of outrage and action to investigate these troubling tactics. But as a Haitian immigrant, these photos and articles cut deep. My family fled Haiti when I was three years old to escape political violence. Sadly, the serious challenges facing Haiti continue: devastating earthquakes and hurricanes, political upheaval, and dangerous gangs and violent crime. Our country faces many challenges right now, especially at our borders, but we must treat those seeking admission to the United States with respect, dignity, and compassion, which of course means fair and due process.
Standing Up for Abortion Rights
In the District, we value reproductive rights, and we are open for care to those who live here and those traveling from other states. You are welcome here and we will protect patients who access abortion care here.
Laws stripping patients of their rights, like the Texas abortion ban, do not apply to patients getting care here or to anyone in the District helping patients get care. As some states like Texas enact abortion bans and restrict access to reproductive care, the District is standing up for patients and has enacted strong legislation enabling residents and visitors to make their own reproductive health decisions.
Tomorrow, thousands will join together in the District and across the country to rally for reproductive justice and freedom. Texas’ law should be overturned, and as we fight it and other abortion restrictions in the courts, tomorrow’s march will be a clear reminder to leaders and our country that reproductive rights matter.