NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

Democratic AGs discuss taking on Trump and building equity at Netroots Nation 2020

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.

The ses­sion is avail­able to watch on demand if you’re inter­est­ed.

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:

  1. Hav­ing a diverse and inclu­sive team at the AG’s office
  2. Crim­i­nal jus­tice reform – reduc­tion of the lev­el of incarceration
  3. Focus­ing on reduc­ing reentry
  4. End­ing the school to prison pipeline
  5. End­ing cash bail
  6. 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.

Our cov­er­age of Net­roots Nation 2020 will con­tin­ue through this Sat­ur­day; we invite you to check back reg­u­lar­ly for peri­od­ic updates from the conference.

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