Protesters are keeping up their demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd last week. They're calling for immediate reforms when it comes to police brutality and deeper changes when it comes to systemic racism. Shortly before Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced a second degree murder charge against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, Healey spoke with WGBH News' All Things Considered host Arun Rath to say she's on board with police reform. This interview has been edited for clarity.

Arun Rath: So, I'd like to read a statement. You said this on Twitter yesterday and this was in the context of remarks you were going to deliver to the greater Boston Chamber of Commerce this week. You wrote or tweeted, "If there's anything I wanted to do as attorney general, it was to address the systemic racism that's plagued all aspects of society. I've fallen short, but I know I have power and the chamber has influence after 400 years of racism in America. We have a responsibility to own up and act." What haven't you done that you plan to do now?

Maura Healey: What I mean when I say I've fallen short, it's another way of saying I think that we we have work to do to change policies and laws, to address issues of systemic racism and educate ourselves. We as a society, particularly I think for white people, need to educate ourselves about the history of race and racism and institutionalized racism in our country.

I think we also need to have dialog with one another. Now is the time to listen to your black and brown colleagues about their experiences with this, whether it's walking into an office building on a weekend for work only to be stopped by security. Or how many times they were stopped while driving. Or how awful it is to have to sit down and talk to your kids about how to conduct themselves when they leave the house and go to the store or the movies or get on the T. This is the time for us as a society — on the individual level, but also within our workspaces, within our neighborhoods — to really engage on racism because we can't run from it. It's just something that's ingrained, embedded since before the founding of this country.

Rath: You actually called your counterpart, the attorney general of Minnesota, after, I'm assuming, is after you saw the horrendous video.

Healey: Oh, I reached out to Keith Ellison right away. I wanted to find out what happened. We talked about some of what's become public, some of what hasn't. But suffice it to say, I'm glad that he has taken over the prosecution of the murder of George Floyd. He has more work, I know, under way. But, you know, it just it's terribly distressing. It's distressing to see and to watch. You couldn't help be moved by the scene of a white police officer with his knee to the neck for minutes on end as the life, the blood, visibly drained from George Lloyd's body. We have to act. And, you know, I think that means action on the local level. I know it means action in reforming the criminal justice system, but it also is going to require reforms across all realms. You know, because if you look at health care, transportation, employment, education, we see the effects of racism across all these rooms. We've got to take that on. And I believe that working together, we can.

It's not just the work of the black and brown community. It's the work really that has to be driven by white people because, we created the problem and we need to fix it. And that's why yesterday when I spoke to my business leaders and the business community here in Greater Boston, it really was an invitation for ways for all of them to get involved. They're really important leaders in this space. It's business. It's government. It's nonprofit. It's grassroots. All of us together, collective action to take this on and move forward.

Rath: Talking about collective action, I just think about different spheres of influence. And, you know, you and other attorneys general. At the same time, I think about how the federal government, we know that Attorney General Jeff Sessions long ago pretty much killed, gutted the investigations and oversight of police functions that were ongoing there. How much of a problem is it, too?

Healey: Well, it's really unfortunate. And, you know, we've seen any number of efforts by Attorney General William Barr to undermine the rule of law, to do things that are against the Constitution. Even the other day, President Trump's threat to send U.S. military forces, soldiers to our streets. Again, these are things that are legally incorrect, but also just not helpful in this time. And so, it is up to the rest of us to band together, to work together. I've seen great efforts here, for example, by law enforcement. I've seen great collaboration, coordination between law enforcement and activists. I was at the Franklin Park rally vigil last night and, you know, tens of thousands of people were there without incident. And, you know, there is a way we can do this.

Rath: You met you mentioned President Trump's threat to send the military to to states that I guess, in his terminology, don't dominate. You know, we were live on the radio when he gave that address from the Rose Garden. And I saw, hate to keep bringing this up, but just I feel like it was maybe 10 minutes later there was a tweet from you. Let me quote this to you as well. "No, the president cannot unilaterally deploy the United States military into Massachusetts streets to stop peaceful protests."

Healey: He does not have that authority. Not only is it something that doesn't hold up legally. More importantly, it's a bad and dangerous idea. You know, it's just not the case in Massachusetts that we've had a breakdown of federal law. As the chief law enforcement officer here, I know that law enforcement in our state has been and will continue to be capable, fully capable of addressing any public safety concerns.

But, you know, this is a president who seems to enjoy inciting discord, divisiveness. He wants to see this kind of friction. And, you know, when he says something like that, I think, you know, I certainly heard from a number of residents in Massachusetts,. 'Can they do that? Can this happen?' No one wants to see soldiers on our streets. That's not America. That's not who we are. And so we absolutely need to repudiate that.

Rath: I should mention as well some other recent news. It does seem that Mr. Trump's own defense secretary has said that he is he's not down with that.

Healey: Well, you know, it just it doesn't make any sense. You know, it is a threat. It is the same sort of rhetoric. We've seen bluster from this president. But I'm glad that as secretary of defense at least acknowledges that it's bad idea. I hope the president listens. The president doesn't always listen to people.

Healey: Attorney General, before we let you go, I have to ask you, you were at yesterday's demonstration at Boston's Franklin Park. You were there in solidarity.

Rath: Absolutely. I was there in solidarity. To stand in this vigil was really about acknowledging and being in solidarity with justice and equity and the work that we need to do. And it was really a moving scene, a moving scene as people moved from Franklin Park and down the way to over by the field in Shaddock. Tens of thousands of people of all races, of all ages. But somber and solemn, in what really I think reflects a resolve to address this issue. I also saw police and police interacting with those who were there to march. It was really a moving sight.

People are understandably angry right now with what's happened in our country to see the murder of a black man. When you see the threat to another black man simply for watching birds in the park, instance after instance. Ahmaud you know, simply running — something that all of us do regularly — shot in the back for it. So the anger is understandable, but the action is what's important. And I do believe that we have the capacity and the compassion to do this together.