The People v. Hate: A Conversation with D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine

Karl Racine.jpg

On this week’s episode of the Burn Bag, co-hosts Ryan and A’ndre speak with the D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine about the January 6th Insurrection, how to address issues in policing, and solutions to resolving the larger issues around hate in America. AG Racine outlines how his office is addressing the January 6th Insurrection at the Capitol Building, what jurisdiction he has in terms of prosecutions, and the active investigation of former and current political leaders, that include President Donald J. Trump. AG Racine talks about how our country needs to address hate groups, and why we need to get ‘hate’ off of social media platforms — that’s contributed to many of the security risks the United States faces domestically. We wrap by discussing issues around policing in America, and how we can advance American values against the prevalence of hate.


On the January 6th Insurrection

  • “We expect visitors to treat the District of Colombia with respect. And of course, what happened on January 6th was the absolute lack of respect. It was dishonor, dishonor for our country, dishonor for our symbol of democracy.”
  • “Metropolitan D.C. police officers went into the capital, and essentially, saved the day. God knows what would have happened had the Metropolitan Police Department not gone into the Capitol, and provided needed support to the Capitol Hill police.”

On prosecuting those responsible for January 6th

  • “We’ll be doing more meeting and talking this week in regards to ways in which our offices can collaborate on the investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses related to January 6.”

Is The OAG actively investigating the legal culpability of former President Donald Trump?

  • “The answer is yes. We have reviewed every single second of video tape, just to master the words that were utilized. We’ve done the same thing with respect to all the speakers. I want to be really clear that the charges that we have are misdemeanor offenses, the last thing that I would want to do, as a responsible prosecutor is launched a series of misdemeanor offenses that might interfere with more significant felony offenses that the federal prosecutor might bring. And so we are investigating, we have legal theories of potential liability, wouldn’t hesitate to bring such a suit. But at the same time, we don’t want to interfere with the more serious felony charges that the federal prosecutor could bring.”

Addressing domestic terrorism

  • “Hate, of course, is a historic phenomenon. Certainly in the United States, and elsewhere, the first thing we have to do is be educated on it, and be honest about it.”
  • “Well, the reality is that our country needs a reckoning. So education, and then denouncing hate crime, and domestic terrorism is incredibly important. And it’s incredibly important that our political leaders do that. And as you’ve seen, sadly, too many political leaders are not stepping up to condemn hate groups.”
  • “We need honesty, and we need responsibility and leadership to denounce violence. We also need accountability. That means holding people in these hate groups accountable. It also means going further, and looking at how they’re getting their message out, and who may be benefited.”

On social media platforms

  • “Here’s the deal. We need to teach about our country’s history in the schools. That’s one way for us to have a reckoning and understanding about our past, and what kind of place we want to be in the future.”

On media related violence

  • “The online format is a place where people can populate and spread hate. And what we’ve got to do is again, be responsible, of course, be respectful of difference of opinion, but nip the hay in the bud. And I think the platforms can do a much better job of doing that. Then they’re doing it now. Now, in fact, most of the platforms actually bar hate speech on their websites. What we don’t see, unfortunately, is the self regulation of their own rules.

On policing

  • “I believe that we ask our police to do far too much more than they’re trained to do more than they should do. And I believe that, especially in over policed communities, that causes massive distrust, tension. And indeed, it can cause friction that leads to violence. We also know that we have a significant problem around police shootings, especially shootings of unarmed people of color. And so clearly, what we’ve got to do is reorient our police to a de-escalation mode of policing, as opposed to what we’re seeing, which is, you know, honestly, a quick trigger approach.”
  • “But if you talk to students in schools, here’s what they’ll tell you. They’ll tell you they need more counselors, more therapists, more restorative justice professionals, so that kids can resolve their issues at school, as opposed to criminalizing conduct that occurs in school. So I think it’s a more nuanced debate than defund or not. We’ve got to decide what needs funding training, higher promotion, accountability standards…”

On the Metropolitan Police for the District of Columbia

  • “Because communities must trust police, in order for the community to participate in the criminal justice system. We often hear that community members are reluctant to come and testify before court. While studies show that a lot of that resistance relates to overall distrust of the criminal justice system, we can establish trust, we can bring in a new era of police and community trust and safer policing.”

On police violence

  • “However, the federal government has a massive opportunity to influence best practices. Why? Because the federal government has a lot of money. The federal government can use that money to incentivize and encourage better policing at the local and state level.”

On American values and cultures:

  • “I think it really calls on us, whatever we’re doing, whether we’re an elementary school teacher, Junior High teacher, a parent, to really take a look at how we’re spending our time and who we’re spending our time with. Put another way, we need to intentionally engage more with each other. So that the commonality that we all have, you know, the desire to have a challenging and interesting career that pays.”

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