In a historic move last week, the U.S. House of Representatives finally voted to grant the District of Columbia’s more than 700,000 residents one of the most fundamental American rights: equal representation. Now it’s up to the U.S. Senate to do the same.
District residents, who number more than Wyoming and Vermont, pay more in federal taxes than any other states’ residents. Yet, for more than a century, we have been systematically denied voting members of Congress, a voice in national affairs, and true self-governance over local affairs. Indeed, unlike every other U.S. jurisdiction, the District lacks a local prosecutor accountable to our residents. D.C.’s control over its local criminal justice system is consistently subject to federal interference, which has resulted in a higher per capita incarceration rate than any other state. And the U.S. Congress can actually strike down any of our local Council’s legislative reforms.
Make no mistake: The federal government’s disapproval of the District’s statehood rests on racism and politics. Throughout the 20th century, members of Congress routinely opposed empowering the District’s predominantly black population with the right to govern themselves. Statehood is the remedy to this type of oppression.
I applaud the many activists for their tireless advocacy on behalf of statehood, which helped make this vote possible. Now is the time for the U.S. Senate to do what’s right, fair, and just: grant District residents the voting representation we deserve. Read my full statement on the House passage of H.R. 51 and watch this video about the urgency of securing D.C. statehood now.
Karl A. Racine
Discussing DACA with DREAMers
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court upheld DACA, a federal program that has allowed hundreds of thousands of DREAMers to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation. Last week, AG Racine hosted a virtual chat with local DACA recipients and the National Immigration Law Center about the recent Supreme Court win and what it’s like to be a DREAMer while the Trump administration fights to roll back their protections. Watch this important and timely discussion about ways we can all stand up to protect young, hard-working immigrants in the District.
Removing Deadly Ghost Guns
Ghost gun image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Polymer80 is a gun manufacturer that makes it easy for individuals to buy unmarked and untraceable firearms that are commonly used to commit violent crimes. In fact, more than 80 percent of the 250 “ghost guns” recovered in D.C. since 2017 were made by Polymer80. Last week, AG Racine sued Polymer80 to stop them from illegally advertising and selling untraceable guns to D.C. consumers and to get these deadly weapons off our streets. Report illegal or unfair business practices to OAG by calling (202) 442-9828 or filling out a complaint online. Learn how you can use D.C.’s Red Flag Law to remove a firearm from a potentially dangerous person.
This Pride Month, OAG was proud to join in celebrating the District’s LGBTQ+ community during a recent #Take30 virtual chat. OAG convened a panel of local and national experts to talk about the progress in LGBTQ+ rights and challenges that still face LGBTQ+ people of color. Panelists talked about the importance of helping vulnerable LGBTQ+ populations with housing, healthcare, employment, and fighting structural racism and discrimination. Watch the event and remember to report discrimination to OAG by calling (202) 727-3400, emailing OAGCivilRights@dc.gov, or filling out our online form.
June 30 at 2pm: “Walking With Angels” Peace Rally
Today, June 30 at 2:00 p.m., OAG intern and Right Direction Award winner Zion Kelly is organizing a “Walking With Angels” peace walk from Anacostia Park SE to The Fridge DC to raise awareness about gun violence in the District. Join Zion, OAG’s Cure the Streets, and community members as we continue to shine a light on a problem that has taken far too many lives and work to make our communities safer.
Fighting Oil and Gas Corporations’ Climate Disinformation Campaigns
For decades, Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, and Shell spent millions to mislead consumers about the role their products play in causing climate change and discredit climate science in pursuit of profits. As the scientific consensus around fossil fuels and climate change grew, the companies exaggerated their investments in sustainable energy and transition away from fossil fuels. Last week, AG Racine sued these oil and gas companies to stop their disinformation campaigns, provide relief for District consumers, and secure civil penalties. This is just the latest in OAG efforts to protect the environment.
Reducing Violence Amid Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Gun violence is one of the leading causes of death among adolescents nationwide. During Gun Violence Awareness Month (June), OAG is spotlighting how it works to make our communities safer. OAG’s Cure the Streets violence interruption program is working in Wards 5, 7, and 8, and is also engaged in COVID-19 outreach and support. OAG is also amplifying youth solutions to violence through the “Do The Write Thing Challenge,” a national essay contest for middle school students to write about their experiences with violence and ideas on how to stop it. Read about these important community-centered public safety efforts in our new blog.
Limiting Local Resources for Federal Immigration Crackdowns
AG Racine recently led a group of 15 State Attorneys General to defend state efforts that limit local resources from being used in federal immigration crackdowns. When undocumented immigrants fear that the police will turn them or their family over to ICE, they don’t report crimes or seek help when they are victims. Communities are safer when local law enforcement can build and maintain trust with residents. The coalition argues that states have the responsibility and authority to protect public safety, regulate law enforcement, and decide how to use their limited resources.