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Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, alongside Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner William Gross, spoke at a press conference Monday afternoon addressing Sunday's peaceful protests that concluded with a burst of property damage, looting and clashes with law enforcement.
The march from Nubian Square to the State House was one of several across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Rollins' remarks are transcribed below. They have been lightly edited for clarity.
Thank you, mayor, and thank you, commissioner.
I am exhausted. As your elected district attorney, we have looked around this country and seen police officers — people that black lives pay taxes to fund these positions — shoot us in the street as if we were animals. I feel as if my heart does certainly go out to the officers and civilians that were harmed last night, and we never wish that upon anyone. Those police officers showed up to do their job. They were pulled in on mandatory overtime. We don't know what their opinions are with respect to what people were saying or doing. We would never wish them harm. We should be proud that we have a [police] commissioner in Boston who uses his voice to say this is unacceptable, that we have a sheriff in Suffolk County that uses his voice to say this is unacceptable. I'm a proud member of NOBLE, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement [Executives]. We issued a statement about this.
But I want to remind you, the commissioner is management. And the commissioner is not the rank-and-file police officers that go out every single day and interact with our overwhelmingly poor black and brown communities. And people are fed up and exhausted.
I want to thank the Chelsea Police Department, the National Guard, all the mutual aid that was brought to our beautiful city of Boston. But this burning rage that you are seeing when you turn your TV on or you hear in my voice is real. People are fed up, and to the white community that is now waking up to see this rage: We have been telling you this forever. We have been saying this since Colin Kaepernick took a knee. We have been saying this for decades. And you didn't listen to us. You didn't care until you saw a video.
This city was never burned on May 24. This city wasn't burned in April, or March, or 2019. It was burned after what happened on Memorial Day. But this is not just about George Floyd, or Ahmaud Arbery, or Tony [McDade], or Christian [Cooper] or Omar [Jimenez]. And although Omar and Christian lived, it is a small glimpse into a CNN reporter being arrested and a black man who happens to really like birds being criminalized by an entitled white woman who called the police and thinks that you are her personal servants.
People are disgusted and outraged, and they should be. And it is completely ironic to have to say to you, 'Please don't be violent. Please keep your voice down. Please be silent and comply with all of the police's requirements,' when, in fact, it's those very people that murder us with impunity.
But that's where we are right now. And currently, as we speak, there are three sessions of the Boston Municipal Court that are actively involved with my staff, and the hardworking men and women of the Boston Police Department, prosecuting individuals that disgraced George Floyd's memory by looting, and burning police cars, and throwing objects and debris and, in fact, even shooting at officers, I am told, in a drive-by situation. That is unacceptable. You will be prosecuted and held accountable.
But I will also say that buildings can be fixed. And I am happy that those officers, I hope, will make it out of it, as will the civilians. There are lives that were stolen, and people that were lynched and murdered, and they are never coming back.
I hope that you take a minute to reflect [on] what a terrible, terrible situation we are experiencing right now. Thank you.
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