In the wake of neo-Nazis targeting anti-racist doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at the end of January, Massachusetts’ new U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said she would like to see neo-Nazis included in gang databases.
“When we look at who our gang database is filled with, it's 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20-year-old Black kids from Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan,” Rollins said on Boston Public Radio Monday. “Why aren't we looking at neo-Nazis to enter them into this database as well? It is just outrageous that there is this level of discourse that people feel comfortable engaging in right now.”
The city’s police gang database has come under fire recently; the ACLU, in addition to other civil rights groups, sued the department over allegations of racism in who gets put on the database, calling for more transparency. In January, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of a Salvadoran man who says police wrongly listed him as a member of MS-13.
Rollins also called for a subcommittee within the Attorney General’s office with U.S. attorneys from states that have either a ballot initiative or have legalized recreational or medicinal marijuana, bringing them together to create clearer guidance on how to navigate cannabis laws when state law is in conflict with federal law.
“What we get is guideposts,” she said. “What is right here might not be right in Colorado. ... I'd like very much for us to give people guidance so they know where they can operate without running afoul of the U.S. Attorney's Office.”
Also as U.S. Attorney, Rollins may be involved in weighing in on the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The Biden administration has asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty for Tsarnaev, which was overturned in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2020.
Rollins emphasized the importance of remaining in communication with those most affected by the bombing. “When we talk about Tsarnaev, before you hear my voice about any decision that the United States Supreme Court makes, we will be speaking to our victims, of which there are hundreds, to make sure that they understand the process and what happens,” she said. “I'm going to meet with the people that tried this case, and we're going to make a decision.”
Still, Rollins affirmed that if U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland chooses to seek the death penalty, her office will have to follow.
Following her tense confirmation process as the first Black woman in the role of U.S. attorney, Rollins spoke in December about violent death threats she received. She said she sympathizes with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who has faced a regular stream of protesters outside her home.
“All of these people out there that are yelling, all these trolls that have a little avatar on their Twitter page that feel so comfortable in their mom's basement writing things, they would never say that to you in your face,” she said. “There's anxiety and trauma that people have endured. We don't deserve this. Nobody signed up for that.”