BOSTON (WHDH) - Newly designated US Attorney for Massachusetts, Rachael Rollins sat down for a one-on-one interview with 7NEWS’ Amaka Ubaka about the uphill battle she faced during the confirmation process, and what she plans to do while in office.
“Power is never given, it’s taken. So there are too many people that are deeply invested in the system as it works because it works great for them,” said US Attorney Designee, Rachael Rollins.
Known for speaking her mind, the first Black woman to serve as District Attorney in Massachusetts is about to be the first Black woman sworn in as the state’s top federal law enforcement official.
“I’m proposing that everyone is treated equally not just the people that happen to know the clerk in the court, or whose father went to law school with the judge,” Rollins said.
But Rollin’s history-making appointment was almost derailed in a contentious confirmation process.
“If anyone reads this document, knows exactly what kind of radical this prosecutor is,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Rollins didn’t receive one Republican vote in the US Senate. Vice President Kamala Harris had to break the 50-50 tie.
“It was hard to hear people talking about things that weren’t necessarily accurate or were taken completely out of context,” said Rollins.
Criticism isn’t new for the progressive and often controversial figure who has been outspoken about her belief that the criminal justice system needs reform.
She says that the criticism has morphed into racist and violent threats.
“When somebody opens an email to you with, ‘You’re nothing but a dirty ‘N-word,” Right? And, ‘You’ll die an N-word,” she said. “Or somebody adding me on Twitter and saying, ‘Better hide your kids.’ Like, my children didn’t sign up for these jobs. I chose to be an elected official.”
When asked what she does in the face of these threats, Rollins said she finds comfort in her family.
“It’s scary because at the end of the day I’ve always said, my parental role is far more important than me being a DA or far more important than me being a US attorney,” said Rollins.
Rollins faced backlash in her role as Suffolk County DA for refusing to prosecute some people for low-level offenses.
Critics claim she is anti-police and soft on crime but, Rollins said she believes the numbers speak for themselves.
“Violent crime in Boston is down by approximately 20 percent so while we are seeing crime waves soar across the country. Boston is an outlier and that is because of the exceptional work of the Boston Police Department, the Mass. State Police the Chelsea, Winthrop, Revere, and Transit Police in all of Suffolk County but it also is because of the work that the Suffolk County DA’s Office does,” said Rollins.
In her new role as US Attorney, Rollins said she already knows what plans on tackling first.
“I’d like it to be human trafficking and drug trafficking, which we’re seeing coming all the way up and down the pipe through New Hampshire and into Rhode Island, into Massachusetts,” said Rollins.
As the oldest of five, Rollins grew up in an interracial home in Cambridge. Known for her legal and political battles, she has also battled breast cancer.
“I like to say if you beat cancer and I’ve been through a divorce like nothing in this job phases me at all, said Rollins.
When asked what she would say to other women of color looking to her as an example, Rollins offered this advice: “We can be anywhere. Make a choice about what you want to do, put the work in to try to get there. And it is all possible.”
She is set to be sworn in as US Attorney for Massachusetts on Monday — she said she picked that day because it is her dad’s birthday.
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