Welcome to our special coverage of Netroots Nation 2020, taking place exclusively online for the first time ever due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It has been long a tradition at Netroots — America’s largest annual gathering of progressives — to give attendees a choice of three featured panels during at least one or two of the timeslots during the three-day conference.
Today’s menu of featured panels consisted of three compelling sessions about pressing topics: legal initiatives to protect vulnerable communities from the Trump regime in the courts, tackling the climate crisis, and defending voting rights.
This post will summarize the legal panel, which was moderated by Farah Melendez, the political director of the Democratic Attorneys General Association.
Joining Melendez were Phil Weiser, the Attorney General of Colorado, Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General of California, Keith Ellison, the Attorney General of Minnesota, and Maura Healey, the Attorney General of Massachusetts.
The panel discussion began with introductions and a conversation about the importantance of the work of Democratic attorneys general are in our current times. Each AG emphasized that they are the people’s lawyers and a way to affect change at the grassroots level involves contacting your state Attorney General.
Democratic AGs are on the front lines protecting people from the heinous acts being perpetrated by the Trump regime. Massachusetts’ Maura Healey stated that Democratic AGs have won over ninety percent of their cases against Trump.
Police and criminal justice reform was one of the main topics covered by the panel. The AGs spoke about their focus on these issues before the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a case Ellison’s office is prosecuting.
Colorado’s Weiser explained that his office has a six-prong focus:
- Having a diverse and inclusive team at the AG’s office
- Criminal justice reform – reduction of the level of incarceration
- Focusing on reducing reentry
- Ending the school to prison pipeline
- Ending cash bail
- Police accountability and reform
Weiser observed that even forty-eight to seventy-two hours in jail increases someone’s chance of committing a crime later on as it is a destabilizing event. Only those that are a risk should be kept in jail.
He pointed to the California model of eliminating cash bail and said the question should always be, “Is it about public safety?”
Ellison (who, as mentioned, is heading up the George Floyd case), stated that his office has been working on police accountability since 2019. He added that those that violate the law should be prosecuted no matter who they are.
California’s Becerra talked about transparency in policing and stated that we can’t have reform without going down to the roots and addressing root causes.
Becerra referenced pattern and practice investigations he has done in California and said every police department must undertake new reforms.
Massachusetts’ Healey touted her state’s ban on chokeholds and said that it is important that resources be used properly. She talked about training officers on substance use disorder and mental illness.
The AGs also talked about racial inequality in healthcare, housing and the digital divide. Healy stated that systematic racism has bled across every sector and because of that, everything needs to be looked at through an equity lens.
The AGs reserved some time to discuss the pandemic. Each spoke about their offices being involved in price gouging cases and Weiser made an analogy to Harry Potter character Mad Eye Moody by stating that constant vigilance is necessary. Ellison talked about AGs’ responsibility to protect essential workers. He declared that essential workers are not disposable workers.
Before concluding their session, all of the AGs reiterated that attorneys general need to be engaged with the public and people should be contacting their AGs regarding issues that are important to them. Be sure to get in touch with your state AG if you’ve been wronged by a company you’ve done business with.
How to contact your state’s Attorney General
Every Northwest AG has a web form you can use to lodge an inquiry.
- Washington: Attorney General Bob Ferguson
- Oregon: Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum
- Idaho: Attorney General Lawrence Wasden
Our coverage of Netroots Nation 2020 will continue through this Saturday; we invite you to check back regularly for periodic updates from the conference.