The District has faced a great deal over the past year and a half. This weekend, we are expecting people to come to our city to hold a rally supporting the extremists who stormed the Capitol as part of the January 6 insurrection. I know many across the District are anxious and upset about this event and disheartened to see fencing getting put up around the Capitol again. I understand that frustration. Here’s what I can tell you.
My team is coordinating with our law enforcement partners across the District, and we are monitoring the situation and taking it very seriously.
I encourage residents to remain safe, especially this weekend, and please do not engage any people coming to the rally.
Keep an eye on the Metropolitan Police Department’s social media and on the news, and be aware of your surroundings if you are out at one of the many events and festivals going on around the city this weekend. If you see anything suspicious—especially if you see anyone with a firearm—do not hesitate to report it. Call 911.
Here are a few reminders:
- No firearms are allowed around the White House, National Mall, or U.S. Capitol;
- Open carrying a firearm is prohibited;
- Without a District permit, individuals cannot carry a concealed firearm; and
- Those who violate District gun laws are subject to arrest.
We know that too many of those who support the insurrectionists are motivated by an ideology of hate—one of the greatest threats to our social fabric. Last year, there were 7,759 hate crimes reported to the FBI. In the District, reported hate crimes tripled between 2015 and 2019. The number of reported hate crimes nationwide reached their highest point in 12 years – a stark reminder of this serious threat. We understand it personally in the District, as the events surrounding January 6 were a glaring example of the violent consequences.
As the president of the National Association of Attorneys General, I’ve been using my platform to help address our country’s hate problem. It’s the focus of my presidential initiative, The People v. Hate. It’s also the focus of a big summit I’m holding in the District with other attorneys general at the end of the month to take the politics out of combatting hate and uniting around our common humanity so we can achieve real solutions to stop hate.
Thank you in advance for your help as we work to accomplish that goal.
Karl A. Racine
Expanding Antitrust Lawsuit Against Amazon
In May, my office filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon seeking to end its anticompetitive practices that have raised prices for consumers and stifled innovation and choice across the entire online retail market. Amazon shouldn’t be able to get away with anti-competitive practices, and we’re working to hold the company accountable. Our lawsuit initially focused on how, for years, Amazon has effectively fixed prices among online marketplaces through agreements with its third-party sellers that prevent those sellers from offering their products for lower prices on competing online marketplaces, which raises prices for consumers.
During our investigation, we uncovered that Amazon also engages in harmful agreements with its wholesalers that penalize those sellers and hurt consumers, and we expanded our lawsuit to include them. These agreements—like Amazon’s agreements with third-party sellers—insulate Amazon’s online marketplace from competition, and result in higher prices and less choice for consumers. We knew Amazon’s anti-competitive behavior was far-reaching – and through our investigation, we’re realizing just how far it goes. Read more in this Washington Post article.
Fighting Texas’ Ban on Abortion
With the Supreme Court’s recent decision refusing to halt Texas’ abortion ban—in the dead of night and without even considering the merits of the arguments—the court abdicated its responsibility. This law is unconstitutional and should be overturned as soon as possible. This week, I joined 24 attorneys general in supporting the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit challenging it. Texas’ law strips patients of their constitutional rights and causes irreparable harm, especially to low-income patients, patients of color, and patients in rural communities.
Legal precedent isn’t just an academic concept—it creates norms that people use to order their lives. If precedent no longer matters, that calls into question the meaning of our laws and our Constitution. If the courthouse doors are closed to even a consideration of the legality of a patently unconstitutional law before it takes effect, then our rights mean nothing.
I stand with those across Texas who will most acutely feel the effect of this ban. For now, this is a crisis on their doorstep, but challenges like these lurk in other states as well. This concerns all of us, and I’ll keep fighting to have the law declared unconstitutional.
Delivering for Residents Taken Advantage of by Illegal Home Flipping Scheme
Last week, we were privileged to be able to return money to homeowners who were taken advantage of by a Virginia company that performed shoddy and dangerous renovations and resold properties as part of an illegal home flipping scheme. We successfully sued in 2016 and can now give tens of thousands in restitution to the families affected by the scheme. We will hold anyone accountable who cheats District residents, and it’s wonderful to bring some measure of justice.
ATTEND Program Giveaway
Last weekend, staff from my office’s ATTEND program ran a giveaway of essential items at a community center in Ward 7. ATTEND is a diversion program that we launched to better serve the needs of parents who are at risk of prosecution for failing to send their children to school. The program aims to support families in need to avoid truancy. More than 100 families attended—and everyone was able to leave with items they needed. Thanks to our partners, Turner Community Learning Center, New Image Community Baptist Church and the Jenkins Donelson Foundation for helping make it happen!
Learning about the District’s History and Long Fight for Autonomy & the Importance of Voting Rights
Last Friday, I hosted a second virtual conversation featuring Dr. Michael K. Fauntroy, Associate Professor and Director of the Race, Politics, and Policy Center at George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government. This discussion continued my initial extensive conversation with Dr. Fauntroy back in July about how District residents have long fought for autonomy, and it remains a fight that continues today with the effort for statehood. We also discussed how voting rights, or the lack thereof, impacts the District and those across the country. In case you missed it, you can watch it here.
OAG is Holding More In-Person Clinics to Help DC Residents Access Rent & Utility Bill Help
If you or someone you know needs assistance applying for rental-assistance support, my office is here to help. OAG attorneys and staff are partnering with local non-profit organizations to provide in-person volunteer support to help residents fill out the application for these benefits. The clinics have taken place in August and September in Wards 2, 7, and 8.
STAY DC helps DC residents pay their rent and utility bills during these challenging times. The program is meant to help families settle debts, pay landlords what they are owed and, ultimately, avoid a crisis if the District’s moratorium on eviction proceedings expires. But for many, the application process has been difficult. Partially because of application difficulties, as of late July, STAY DC still had more than 80% of its assistance funds, which can be distributed to eligible residents. Since we know many of our neighbors have struggled financially during the pandemic, we want to get that help to as many people and families as possible.
Following our clinics, we learned that the District has now given out nearly 70% of the $200 million in federal funds offered to help tenants cover rent and utility costs during the pandemic. That means the District won’t have to return any federal money and may get more resources to help struggling residents.
Since the end of July, OAG attorneys and staff have helped over 130 tenants fill out applications for STAY DC funds. I’m proud my office is playing a key role in helping struggling residents get enrolled in the program and it’s imperative that these applications are quickly processed.
Five STAY DC clinics have already taken place. The remaining clinics will take place on:
- Saturday, September 18th from 10 am – 2 pm at East Washington Heights Baptist Church, 2220 Branch Ave SE, Washington, DC 20020 in Ward 7
- Monday, September 20th from 5 pm – 8 pm at Columbia Heights Education Center, 3101 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20010 in Ward 1
- Wednesday, September 22nd from 5 - 8 pm at THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave SE, Washington, DC 20020 in Ward 8
Residents interested in attending a clinic should take the following steps:
- Determine eligibility for STAY DC support.
- Register at this link to join one of the upcoming clinics to be paired with a volunteer who can assist. Residents can also walk up to a clinic without an appointment, but pre-registering will guarantee that someone will be available to help.
- Before going to an appointment, review the list of required documents and bring those documents to the appointment.
Settlement With StubHub Over Cancelled Tickets During COVID-19 Pandemic
Earlier this week, I announced a settlement with StubHub, a ticket resale company, resolving our investigation into the company’s refusal to pay refunds to consumers—including nearly $3.6 million to District consumers—for concerts, sporting and other events that were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With this settlement, we are making sure StubHub is taking the necessary steps to make sure consumers are made whole after the cancelled tickets during the pandemic. My office will continue to hold companies accountable when they violate their own policies at the expense of consumers. Read more from WTOP.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! This month gives us a special time each year to pay tribute to and celebrate the accomplishments and cultural richness of Hispanic and Latinx residents, as well as the invaluable contributions they make daily to communities throughout the United States.