WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today issued the following statement regarding the upcoming demonstrations that will take place in downtown D.C. on January 5 and 6.
“The District of Columbia is a community that respects every person. We also respect the First Amendment’s guarantees around freedom of expression and value peaceful protest as a hallowed American tradition.
“But the Constitution does not grant the right to commit violence or vandalize property, and there is certainly no right to engage in acts of hate.
“It has been publicly reported that several groups—including some that promote hate on a racial and religious basis—will be traveling to the District for demonstrations on January 5 and 6. Some may have plans to stay through the end of the week.
“Make no mistake: many of these individuals have stated that they are coming to the District to provoke residents and wreak havoc.
“While we respect their right to protest, we will not tolerate criminal behavior—and we should deny them the opportunity to cause chaos.
“The Office of the Attorney General, in coordination with the Metropolitan Police Department, the Council, and the Mayor will closely monitor their activities and do everything in our power to hold them accountable should they break District laws. That includes illegally carrying firearms within 1,000 feet of these demonstrations, which will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
“We will also act to ensure that those who operate businesses or live downtown—particularly our residents experiencing homelessness —do not suffer harm.
“To maximize safety, we also encourage every District resident to stay home and avoid downtown this week, if possible. And if you must go out, pay attention to your surroundings and avoid confrontations with these groups.
“Hate has no home in the District. Let’s keep the peace, rather than provide this band of agitators any more attention than their divisive and hateful demonstrations will otherwise receive.”