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Rollins sworn in as Suffolk district attorney

Political leaders, police brass turn out for RCC ceremony

Trea Lavery
Rollins sworn in as Suffolk district attorney
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins takes the oath of office as nieces Victoria and Meya and daughter Peyton look on. BANNER PHOTO

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins was sworn in last Wednesday afternoon in a ceremony at Roxbury Community College, becoming the first woman of color in the state’s history to hold the position.

The swearing-in was conducted by retired Massachusetts Supreme Court Associate Justice Geraldine Hines, the first black woman to hold that position, on a Bible held by Rollins’ daughter Peyton and her two young nieces, Meya and Victoria. Hines and Rollins were both introduced by Peyton Rollins, with a tearful speech in which she recognized her mother’s determination.

Rollins’ swearing in ceremony drew a capacity crowd at Roxbury Community College’s Media Arts Center with overflow at the Reggie Lewis track facility. BANNER PHOTO

Rollins’ swearing in ceremony drew a capacity crowd at Roxbury Community College’s Media Arts Center with overflow at the Reggie Lewis track facility. BANNER PHOTO

“My mother is the strongest and smartest person I know,” she said. “It has been amazing to see all of your hard work pay off. Anything you put your mind to, you achieve.”

In his remarks at the ceremony, Governor Charlie Baker thanked Rollins for running, saying that he knows how difficult the decision to do so can be, especially for someone without campaign experience.

“She has a long career of being the first in a variety of places and spaces, and none of them involve running for office,” he said, referring to Rollins’ former positions as the first black woman to be chief counsel for the MBTA, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Massport.

Rollins has sparked controversy as a candidate and since her election due to her progressive views on criminal justice. Most notably, she has said that she will decline to prosecute 15 minor crimes, including trespassing, shoplifting, larceny under $250 and disorderly conduct, except in extenuating circumstances.

While Boston Police Commissioner William Gross has expressed reservations about Rollins’ approach to misdemeanor crimes, he told the Banner that this was a time for change, noting that it is the first time the city of Boston has had a black commissioner, sheriff and district attorney.

“We’ve all met and we’ve vowed to work together,” he said. “This is a historic time.”

Other speakers at the swearing-in ceremony included Tom Glynn, former CEO of Massport during Rollins’ time there, Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell and other members of Rollins’ transition team and family. All spoke to Rollins’ determination and dedication to reform and equality.

“For Rachael, diversity is about inviting folks to the party,” said Natashia Tidwell, co-chair of the transition team. “Inclusion is inviting them to dance.”

Rollins thanked her team, family members and supporters for helping her achieve the office. She described the path that led her there, beginning with a breast cancer diagnosis that led to a double mastectomy and other surgeries, an experience that made her realize that she wanted to use every day to work on issues that mattered to her.

“In two years, since that time, I decided that there is nothing else in my life that is ever going to be able to tell me that I can’t do something,” she said.

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