Boston’s former top prosecutor Rachel Rollins was sworn in as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts on Monday, becoming the first Black woman to serve as the top federal prosecutor in the state. Rollins took the oath of office in a private ceremony in the Boston federal courthouse after officially stepping down as district attorney for Suffolk County, the Associated Press reported.
She was narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate last month, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote. Rollins said she received racist threats following her nomination. And just days after the confirmation process, those threats have increased rapidly.
Republicans had raised issues with her, particularly her track record, which they described as “radical”, CNN reported. They criticized her decision not to prosecute some low-level crimes as a district attorney.
People are calling on the Justice Department to do more to protect people of color in the federal judicial system following the violent threats against Rollins. Religious leaders and groups have already written to Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking him to provide Rollins with security.
Rev. Jeffrey Brown, associate pastor for the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts said Rollins should have been provided with security right after she was confirmed.
“We have been through an era where others have been killed because of the stances that they were taking. I believe the threats are coming because the atmosphere feels like they can easily target women of color,” Brown told CNN.
Rollins is at the moment seeking protection from the U.S. Marshals Service, sources told CNN. The news outlet said it has reviewed several of the threatening messages on Rollins’ Instagram account, with one warning her to “hide your kids.”
Drew Wade, chief of public affairs for the U.S. Marshals Service, said in a statement that the agency “takes seriously its duty to protect federal judicial officials – including judges and prosecutors – across the country. We continuously review security measures for these officials, and take appropriate actions as warranted, but for safety reasons we do not discuss specific security protocols.”
He did not comment about Rollins’ case. The Justice Department is also yet to comment, according to CNN.
Threats against public officials have increased in recent years. The U.S. Marshals Service tracked more than 4,250 “inappropriate communications/threats to protected persons” in each of the past three fiscal years, compared with fewer than 3,000 in the two years before that, CNN said.
In July 2020, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas’ son and husband were shot at their home. The suspect in the fatal shooting was an attorney who had a previous case in front of the judge.
Judge Salas Salas is the first Latina woman to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey.