An Elite College Athlete, DA Rollins Got a Taste of the Law and Never Turned Back

New Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins has quickly come to be known as an agent of change, a passionate advocate for equity in the law and a solid leader ready to stand up for a cause – but few know that before all that she was an elite Division 1 college athlete, and it was on the playing field where she first gained her love and respect for the law.

Rollins grew up in a large family in Cambridge, and sports were part of her family from the beginning, long before she ever thought of the legal system.

Rollins said she was a team captain of every sport she played going back to youth soccer, and an All-Scholastic in basketball at Buckingham, Brown & Nichols School (BB&N), but it was on the lacrosse field where she was the most outstanding. The sport – which was somewhat newer to New England in the 1980s when she was in high school – was fast moving and, having been recruited to play after a basketball practice, Rollins had a great skill set to be a high achiever.

“I was the oldest of five siblings and my parents worked very hard to make sure we got a great education,” she said. “I got into BB&N after the third grade, but at one point my parents sat me down and told me I was a good athlete and a good student and needed to get a scholarship if I wanted to go to college.”

Her skills led her to a full Division 1 Scholarship to UMass-Amherst for lacrosse, this coming after winning a national championship on the high school level in 1989. After an outstanding freshman year, Rollins and her teammates were shocked to learn that their sport was being eliminated by the university due to budget cuts.

Though she was able to keep her scholarship, she said she eventually missed the athletic fields, and that’s when she and some other women athletes turned to the law – which she found to be a powerful leveler for those without much of a voice.

“At first, I was kind of relieved because I didn’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. for conditioning anymore, but later I began to miss sports,” she said. “I’d played sports my entire life and missed the camaraderie you feel when you have the team behind you and you score a goal.

“We only had three or four scholarship players and we were good,” she continued. “The men’s football team hadn’t won a game in years and they had 75 full-time scholarships with everything provided for them, including food and lodging. I didn’t know a lawyer or a judge, but it seemed so unfair. Myself ,and a few other athletes from the women’s teams, asked to meet with the Athletic Director.”

That meeting didn’t go so well, and there was no change, but DA Rollins said everything changed when they got a lawyer.

“Our lawyer threatened a Title 9 lawsuit,” she said. “The AD completely changed his tune. We got all or our teams re-instituted after a while.”

Rollins – who attended Northeastern University Law School after UMass – said it was her first taste at how the law can be used to empower and bring about justice.

And it was a powerful experience.

“I saw that lawyers matter and words matter,” she said. “As a young person, I thought, ‘Oh my God, lawyers are awesome.’ They make everyone fall into line and things change.”

It was the defining moment she points to after a long legal career with MassPort, the MBTA, and now as the Suffolk District Attorney, where the law became her passion.

However, when it came to leadership – another characteristic she said has been critical as the newly-elected DA in an office that has had the same leader for almost two decades – it was what happened after the teams were re-instated that taught her the most.

She said when the team was finally brought back, she was the only player left with any real experience. Most of the players and coaches had been plucked from other sports like track and volleyball. The elite athlete soon found herself the captain of a team that couldn’t win a game to save themselves.

Yet, she said it was the most important time of her life, leading a team that likely wasn’t going to win, but could still accomplish some goals in the meantime.

“It was one of the best learning experiences I ever had,” she said. “You show up with a smile on your face and give 100 percent even when things aren’t going well. It taught me character…Anyone can be present when things are going great, but where are you when things get hard? Do you still show up? I like to say it costs very little to pay someone a compliment or be respectful. Yet so few do it.”

That kind of optimism for a competitive person in the midst of a losing season was life changing.

“What’s beautiful is to learn not to be discouraged and to be optimistic,” she said. “Those are actually the years I broke records because the numbers of goals I scored. There are still records out there 26 or 27 years later that I set and I’m proud to say I still hold.”

Certainly, the end of her athletic career did not mean an end to those valuable lessons. In fact, she said, it has been sports that taught her about justice and leadership.

“We are breaking down barriers,” she said. “When you see a woman in leadership roles, it happens quite often that in the past that woman had some athletic ability or played some sport. It teaches us about inclusion or teamwork or perseverance. Sports doesn’t care about how much money you have or where you live, it’s about how well you perform on the field. It’s a great leveler. It’s been invaluable for me.”

And in the office, she is adjusting to being that new person who is also the leader of the office. That, she said, takes the kind of skills she honed on the athletic fields some years ago.

“I’m the new person to the team here in the DA’s office and I’m also their leader,” she said. “Change is difficult. What I try to do is show up, know the great work they do and be as encouraging and purposeful as I can.”

Nowadays, Rollins doesn’t spend much time on the playing field, but still enjoys watching her daughter run track, where she has won national championships in the 100m and 200m races. Such things are encouraging, she said, to see girls and young women have so many opportunities that were hard-fought by the generation ahead of them – a generation such as the women athletes like Rollins who used the legal system to challenge decision makers.

“It’s really exciting to see young women are getting the same opportunities men have had a long time,” she said. “Being excited for my young girls playing sports doesn’t take away from my excitement for young men playing sports. We want everyone to have the opportunity for success, on and off the field.”

DA Rollins indicates her office will be more present at crime scenes

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said one change she has made immediately to the office is making sure at major crime scenes, she and members of her office are on scene.

That includes homicides and other such crimes.

Whether in Boston, Chelsea, Revere or Winthrop, she said it is important to be present at the scene, even if it’s the middle of the night.

She said she has instructed everyone to call her no matter what time, and not to wait for the morning to brief her on major crimes.

“For me, it’s important to kind of be proximate and present when things happen so people know we not only handle the case, but also we had boots on the ground from the beginning. A lot of the work we do is behind the scenes and people don’t see it…So, it’s important they see us and we experience what they are dealing with because it really makes us have insight into the work we do every single day.”

She said that, particularly at homicides, she and her office would make every effort to be on scene throughout the county.

Read More

Application Deadline Approaching for Suffolk County

Sheriff’s Department’s paid summer internship program

Launched in 2014, the Summer Enrichment Program provides young people with the opportunity to begin an internship with one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the country, and one of the largest in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, while working alongside established career professionals in the world of law enforcement. Participants will gain insight into the world of law enforcement and criminal justice agencies through job shadowing, weekly presentations by members of law enforcement, roundtable discussions, law enforcement-related field trips, and educational tours.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Summer Enrichment Program is a seven-week program that begins on Monday, July 8th and ends on Friday, August 23rd. The program will invite twenty participants, selected from a group of local high school students, to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department to learn more about careers in law enforcement. Participants will work 21 hours per-week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 8am – 4pm, and will be compensated at a rate of $12.00 per-hour. During each week of the internship, members will participate in a “meet and greet” with members of the law enforcement community on Wednesdays, and a tour or field trip on Fridays.

At the conclusion of the program, all participants will have completed and received their CPR Certification, in addition to a Certificate of Completion from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. By the end of their participation, members of the program will have not only gained insight into the world of law enforcement and met a variety of notable law enforcement officials, but they also will have gained transferable job skills they can utilize later on in their careers.

For employment, applicants must participate in a competitive interview process, complete the written application, submit a CORI form, pass a drug test, complete a physical examination from their doctor, possess a valid picture ID (school ID, passport or driver’s license) and have a savings or checking account. Ideal applicants will be mature, professional and have an interest in some aspect of law enforcement. Applicants will be notified of the Department’s decision by telephone. Once admitted, applicants will receive Department-issued polo shirts and be required to wear khakis for the duration of the program.

The deadline for the application is Tuesday, April 30th. Interviews will be held from Monday, May 6th through Friday, May 24th.

Applications can be filled out online at www.scsdma.org or, they can be faxed to (617) 704-6743 or scanned and emailed to nlovinsky@scsdma.org.

For more information, please contact Nadia Lovinsky at (617) 704-6656 or nlovinsky@scsdma.org.

Read More

Chelsea Man Arrested after Leaving Two in Serious Condition

Chelsea Man Arrested after Leaving Two in Serious Condition

Police have arrested a 24-year-old Chelsea man in connection to a shooting and stabbing at 16 Pleasant St. early Saturday morning.

Hector Emilio Hernandez, was arrested on charges of attempted murder and unlawful possession of a firearm following the alleged attack, according to Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Revere police and emergency medical personnel responded to 16 Pleasant St. at about 1:45 a.m. Saturday to find a 27-year-old man from Chelsea apparently shot and a 23-year old man from Chelsea apparently stabbed. Both were hospitalized. State Police detectives were notified and the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit responded.

Hernandez is expected to be arraigned Monday in Chelsea District Court.

“The relationship between the parties involved remains under investigation, as do the circumstances surrounding the violent encounter,” Wark said in a statement.

Wark added that based on an investigation that continued through Saturday morning and into Saturday afternoon, troopers and officers developed information that the suspect may be in the area of Calumet Street in Revere.
Troopers and officers set up surveillance and observed a man matching the suspect’s description enter a residence on that street.

When police went to the house they observed the suspect exit a back door and try to climb a fence. He was caught and apprehended and transported to the State Police Barracks in Revere where he was booked on charges of attempted murder and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Revere Police Criminal Investigation Division at 781-286-8340 or the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit at 617-727-8817.

Read More

Looking at the Election:After Months of Campaigning, Congressional and DA Races Move to the Voters Sept 4

Looking at the Election:After Months of Campaigning, Congressional and DA Races Move to the Voters Sept 4

In presidential campaigns, the swing state is always Ohio.

In this year’s Democratic Primary on Sept. 4, Chelsea is Ohio.

The battleground for so many races that will be decided on Tuesday, Sept. 4, has been in Chelsea this summer. Whether it’s the congressional race, the DA’s race, or even the Secretary of State – Chelsea has figured big in the plans of many candidates as they try to stake out their territories.

There have been numerous debates, several rallies, and endless discussions about the Primary Election – particularly on the Democratic side – but this coming Tuesday, Sept. 4, the talk ends and the voting begins.

Perhaps the most prominent and far-reaching race on the Democratic ballot is between the five district attorney candidates. For the first time in more than a decade, after the retirement of DA Dan Conley, the DA’s seat is open, and the entirety of Suffolk County will be choosing the winning candidate in the Primary.

Evandro Carvalho, Linda Champion, Greg Henning, Shannon McAuliffe and Rachael Rollins are all newcomers to Suffolk County politics and have had to forge paths in areas outside their typical spheres of influence. Most have had management experience and some have worked in the prosecutor’s office. Carvalho is a sitting state representative from Dorchester.

He has received the endorsement of Chelsea State Rep. Dan Ryan.

However, Rollins – who made a good showing at a debate here earlier this summer – has made great gains in Chelsea, nabbing the support of many City Councillors here, including Councilor Leo Robinson (At-Large), Councilor Roy Avellaneda (At-Large), Councilor Joe Perlatonda (District 3), and Councilor Giovanni A. Recupero (District 6).

Rollins has also received support of the Ward 4 Democratic Committee here.

  • A race that has been liveliest in Chelsea is that of Congressman Michael Capuano against Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley – both of whom are running for Congress on the Democratic ticket.

Both have visited Chelsea with some frequency.

Earlier this summer, Pressley and Capuano both rolled out major visits in the span of two days to liven up the base in Chelsea.

Capuano boasts the support of elected officials like State Rep. Dan Ryan, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Councillor Robinson, but more than a few have been swayed by the arguments of Pressley, who has been polished and professional throughout the race.

This week, Pressley made a major score in landing the support of a dozen or more Chelsea elected officials and community leaders. Some include Council President Damali Vidot and Chelsea City Councillors Enio Lopez and Yamir Rodriguez. Also, Chelsea School Committee Chair Jeannette Velez, Vice-Chair Kelly Garcia, School Committeeman Julio Hernandez and School Committeewoman Lucia Henriquez. Former School Committee Members Robert Pereira, Melinda Vega and Diana Maldonado are also supporting Pressley.

Chelsea has been a key battleground, but it’s a big district that stretches all the way down through Boston and to Randolph on the South Shore. How that works out is anyone’s guess.

  • A less heralded race in Chelsea, but one that will be on the ballot and has been contentious, is the contest between Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim and long-time Secretary of State Bill Galvin.

Galvin has been a stalwart in the State House for many years, and has been very critical of Zakim.

Zakim has returned the favor.

A debate two weeks ago between the two had some very big fireworks shot off from both candidates.

Zakim has had some strong endorsements statewide, which has turned some heads, but Galvin also has the experience of years in the seat.

It will be one to watch Tuesday night.

Read More

Five vie Suffolk County District Attorney

Five vie Suffolk County District Attorney

With Suffolk County District Attorney (DA) Dan Conley announcing earlier this year that he will not seek re-election after leading the office for more than 15 years, a crowded field has emerged to replace him.

Five candidates—Evandro Carvalho, Linda Champion, Greg Henning, Shannon McAuliffe, and Rachael Rollins—are facing-off for the Democratic nomination on Sept. 4. Greg Henning, who is viewed as right leaning, appears to be the favorite with the remaining candidates splitting the progressive vote. The Record recently contacted the five candidates to ask them their pitch for Chelsea voters.

Greg Henning

“I’m running for DA because I have a vision for a safe and vibrant Suffolk County for everyone. Your next DA needs to be ready on day one to stem the tide of gun violence, combat the opioid epidemic, and build trust between law enforcement and the community. As an assistant district attorney for 10 years, I worked to deliver justice to victims of shootings and other violent crimes. As a teacher and mentor, I worked with young people to steer them away from crime in the first place. I hope to continue serving this community as your next DA.”

Shannon McAuliffe

“I have always chosen the hard fight because it was the right fight. First, I never prosecuted one way like the other candidates and now claim, ‘Sorry, I’ll try being fairer now.’ Second, as a 12-year Suffolk County public defender and long-time Suffolk County resident, I have more experience in these very criminal courts than any opponent. Third, I led two sites at Roca, an innovative organization literally proven to reduce recidivism amongst Suffolk County’s court-involved young adults. Finally, I am the only candidate with a proven track record of fighting against injustice and doing different to get different results.”

Rachael Rollins

“The primary responsibility of the DA is to keep our communities safe. I will do that – but I will do it differently. My Administration will give voice to victims and survivors of crime.  We will work to solve the 1000+ unsolved homicides in Boston. We will seek to end wealth and race-based disparities by tackling the cash bail system. I understand that mental illness and substance abuse require treatment, not incarceration. I will work hand-in-hand with our diverse communities.  With 20+ years of legal and leadership experience, I can implement real progressive criminal justice reform. Get involved at rollins4da.com.”

Evandro Carvalho

“I’m running because it’s time for a DA from our community. It’s time for a DA with the leadership and training to transform the office and keep our communities safe. It’s time to elect a DA with a proven record of fighting for the people.

I’m a former Assistant District Attorney and current State Representative from Dorchester, where I live with my wife and daughter. I went to Madison Park High School. I led the fight for criminal justice reform on Beacon Hill and as the DA for Suffolk County, I’ll make the office more accountable, equitable, and transparent.”

Linda Champion

“This race is not about politics, it’s about the community. As someone who has lived in poverty, been homeless, experienced the trauma of domestic violence and substance abuse and endured gender and racial discrimination, I feel I can lead the district attorney’s office through the difficult challenges that are ahead of us. I will lead the DA’s office away from a scorecard mentality and toward reducing recidivism through community collaboration, with the overall goal of crime prevention.”

Read More

Four Members of City Council Endorse Rollins for District Attorney

Four Members of City Council Endorse Rollins for District Attorney

This week, Rachael Rollins received the endorsement of four Chelsea City Councillors, including Councilor Leo Robinson (At-Large), Councilor Roy Avellaneda (At-Large), Councilor Joe Perlatonda (District 3), Councilor Giovanni A. Recupero (District 6) and the Ward 4 – Chelsea Democratic Committee in her candidacy for District Attorney of Suffolk County.

This endorsement adds to a large list of civic leaders who have endorsed Rollins including, Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell, Boston City Councilor Kim Janey, State Senator William Brownsberger, among others.

Councilor Robinson said: “In order to make change, you have to be at the table. Rachael is the one we want at the table for us. She’s a fighter and is the voice that Chelsea needs in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. Join me in voting for Rachael Rollins on September 4.”

Councilor Avellaneda said: “As someone who has dedicated my adult life to civic engagement, I know we have a partner in Rachael Rollins. Having previously worked together with Rachael at MassDOT, I have witnessed firsthand her ability to administer a public agency. Her proposals for a common-sense, progressive policy to address issues of public safety and the opioid epidemic in Suffolk County is what we need. She is absolutely the right choice for Suffolk County DA.”

Councilor Perlatonda said: “I’m proud to join my colleagues on the Council and the over 60 individuals and organizations that have endorsed Rachael Rollins.  There isn’t a more experienced leader in this important race.”

Councilor Recupero said: “All of our communities are safer when we have trust in our District Attorney. Rachael Rollins is someone you can trust. In order to understand the people, you need to be with the people and Rachael is with the people. I’m proud to endorse her and will be casting my vote for her on September 4 in the Primary Election for Suffolk County District Attorney.”

Rollins stated: “I am so proud to have the support of each councilor. Chelsea is lucky to have these wonderful public servants. I know the hard-working and dedicated people of Chelsea want a fighter and someone who will advocate to keep their community safe. If elected, I will hold true to this promise and will fight every day for the people of Chelsea and Suffolk County. Thank you again to the councilors as well as the Ward 4 Democratic Committee. I am grateful and inspired by your support.”

Election Day is Tuesday, September 4. To learn more about Rollins or to get involved, please visit: www.rollins4da.com.

Read More

Linda Champion Announces for Suffolk County DA

Linda Champion Announces for Suffolk County DA

Linda Champion has announced her intention to run for the position of Suffolk County District Attorney. The following is her statement:

“We are prosecuting people but we are not prosecuting the conditions that exist in our society that cause a person to act out: poverty, substance abuse, trauma and ptsd. In order to prevent crime we need to focus on jobs, education, and housing, these tools have been my core focus over the past 15 years. I will roll up my sleeves and get the work done.” – Linda Champion

Linda Champion is a seasoned litigator, former Suffolk County prosecutor, and community builder who is seeking to be the first Korean-African American woman ever elected to office in Massachusetts.

The daughter of an African-American war veteran and a Korean immigrant mother who met while he was fighting in Vietnam, Linda was raised in Louisiana and Texas before moving to Lowell in the late 1980s. Her father suffered from the effects of the war and she and her sister were raised by their mother. The family struggled with discrimination, poverty and homelessness as her mother worked two jobs to provide for her daughters. Linda graduated from Lowell Middlesex Academy, and she moved to Boston alone, when she was 18 and homeless.

She is a graduate of Newbury College, Suffolk University and Suffolk Law School. She served for two years as an assistant district attorney under Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, prosecuting criminal cases in juvenile court, Dorchester and Roxbury District Courts. She was promoted to Superior Court prosecutor in 2013 and worked in the Elder and Disabled Victims Unit. She is currently on leave of absence from the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents where she has served since 2013 as an assistant general counsel representing the Workers Compensation Trust Fund.

Prior to her public service, she worked as a private attorney, specializing in consumer protection, real estate law, community development and helping first-time homebuyers overcome financial and discriminatory barriers to housing. She’s also partnered with the City of Boston to teach home ownership programs and been a board member for a subsidiary of the affordable housing nonprofit organization Urban Edge.

Linda has also volunteered for several charitable organizations, including fundraising for Thompson Island, The Dimock Center and served five years on the board of Newbury College and Chung Changing Lives, a nonprofit co-founded by Cecelia Chung that provided free music, athletic and academic programs to adolescents. Linda lives in Hyde Park with her family.

Summary Policy

Positions

Salary increases. Increase salaries of Assistant District Attorney to a livable living wage. Currently the average hourly salary for entry level prosecutors is about $22.00 per hour. Most of the entry-level prosecutors and victim witness advocates have wages that are totally inadequate. The starting salary for Assistant District Attorneys range from $42,000 – $50,000. Many of these public servants due to the cost of living and student loans are forced to work two-jobs which impacts their ability to focus on the job at hand. We must increase the starting salaries to a minimum of $65,000 – $75,000.

Diversity. As an assistant district attorney I learned that most of my colleagues had little to no personal experiences with communities of color outside their employment. Because they lacked real world experiences with people of different race, ethnic and cultural backgrounds often their perceptions of an individual’s actions were biased. In order to build relationships within the communities we serve and to ensure that justice is equal we have to transform the Office of the District Attorney to reflect the community we serve and affirm the value of our communities of color. This starts with addressing our own race bias through engagement and training to understand the types of violence facing black, brown and indigenous Americans.

Crime Prevention. In order to maintain safe neighborhoods we have to work with the residents in the community. The residents have to feel safe and protected so they can report crime. To create a safe environment we have to a establish a victim and witness protection program that goes beyond giving a person a ride to court and a list of resources to contact. We need a program that includes mental health services to housing relocation and assistance. For residents to feel safe to come forward with information I have to continue to work as a community builder to solidify relationships between the community, undocumented residents and law enforcement professional. One overarching goal is to work with homicide detectives to expand the cold team and to work through cold cases to bring the survivors of homicide closure. This is to identify and segregate those dangerous persons who pose a threat to our safety and the well-being of others. Aside from allocating sufficient resources to witness protection, this policy requires working with law enforcement to increase resources available to detectives and to grow number of detectives assigned to the homicide cold case squad.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, July 21, 2018

12  – 4 p.m.

184 Dudley St., Boston, MA, 02119

Cookout with the Candidates, meet the candidates running for County, Statewide, and Federal office.

Read More

CBC Hosts Candidates Forum for District Attorney, U.S. Congress

CBC Hosts Candidates Forum for District Attorney, U.S. Congress

The Chelsea Black Community (CBC), under the leadership of President Joan Cromwell, hosted a Candidates Forum on June 27 at the Chelsea Senior Center.

Four of the five candidates for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s position in the Sept. 4 Democratic Primary– Linda Champion, Rachael Rollins, Shannon McAuliffe, and Evandro Carvalho – participated in the forum. Cromwell announced that DA candidate Greg Henning was invited to the forum, but was unable to attend due to another commitment.

Boston City Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley, candidate for U.S. Congress, took part in the CBC’s Congressional Candidates Forum. Congressman Michael Capuano was unable to attend because Congress was in session in Washington, D.C.

The four DA candidates presented their qualifications for the position and stated how they would run the DA’s office if they were elected. There were some spirited remarks by the candidates while discussing issues such as immigration, sanctuary cities, criminal justice reform, the homeless, diversion programs, the opioid crisis, and the safety of residents in Suffolk County.

Rollins delivered the most eye-opening comments of the forum when she spoke about the lack of diversity in positions of leadership at ROCA, the Chelsea-based agency led by CEO Molly Baldwin. Rollins’ comments came after McAuliffe, a former director at Roca, had rebutted Rollins’ earlier statement that she [Rollins] had management experience at Massport, MassDOT, and the MBTA, which, Rollins noted, are much larger organizations than ROCA.

McAuliffe said, “We heard a little bit about Roca leading 17 people and I want to be really clear about this: The staff of Roca is 17 people, but it is an agency with over 200 young men who are the highest risk in the county, and helping to give them what they need to actually turn away from crime. I will let everybody leave their own opinions to themselves about the MBTA and Massport and what we’ve actually seen about those companies, but what I can say about Roca is that it is effective, it’s data-driven, it’s innovative, and it’s about leading radical change.”

Rollins responded vigorously to McAuliffe, saying, “I was fortunate enough after Shannon left Roca, to be offered the job of director of Roca, and what was disappointing to me is that I would have been the first person of color in the 30-year history of Roca to ever have that position. Roca has inserted itself into communities of color and its management is historically not people of color. And I am very, very tired, very candidly, of communities of color being led by people that don’t look like us, and we are not asked to sit at the table. So I am very proud of my history of hiring people of color, and women, at the MBTA, Massport, and MassDOT, and I hope ROCA works really hard to make sure that they get some more diversity in their leadership.”

Pressley, who received the most enthusiastic ovation of the night upon her introduction, said, “I am running for Seventh Congressional District because this is the most diverse district, and yet it is the most unequal. And if you need any evidence of that, you get on the No. 111 bus and just try to get to work on time, or you can get on the No. 1 bus in Harvard Square in Cambridge and ride it all the way to Dudley Square in Roxbury. And what you will see visually is a stark contrast of life experiences, median household income, and life expectancy drop by decades.

“My opponent has been a reliable vote – given these times, that is no longer good enough,” Pressley continued. “This district deserves and these times demand activist leadership, leaders that will vote the right way, that will lead, that will legislate, that will be bold – and I want to underscore the intention in legislating: to uplift families, to advance communities, and to reduce harm.”

Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, who represented Capuano at the forum, delivered a speech highlighting Capuano’s many accomplishments in office as Chelsea’s congressman.

Sharon Caulfield, associate dean of Bunker Hill Community College, did a masterful job as the moderator of the forum. Caulfield, whose husband, Michael, and daughter, Emily, looked on proudly in the audience, kept the program moving smoothly, was professional and courteous in her manner, and was impartial in her actions.

Joan Cromwell thanked Chelsea Community Cable Television and its executive director, Duke Bradley, for televising the forum and the Chelsea Record for its publicizing and coverage of the forum.

Cromwell said in concluding her remarks, “This [forum] was good.”

And all who participated in and attended the forum,  agreed.

Read More

Suffolk County District Attorney Candidates Forum Sparks Debate Among Contenders

Suffolk County District Attorney Candidates Forum Sparks Debate Among Contenders

A heated discussion between the candidates for Suffolk County District Attorney took place in a packed room at Suffolk University Law School on Thursday, May 3.

The event was moderated by Meghan Irons, the social justice reporter at The Boston Globe, and was hosted by Boston Wards 3, 4, and 5 Democratic committees, Suffolk Law School, Boston NAACP, MassVOTE, and the Mass. Dems Latino Caucus.

Candidates Evandro Carvalho, Massachusetts state representative from Dorchester, Attorney Linda Champion, Greg Henning assistant district attorney, Shannon McAuliffe director at Roca, an organization that disrupts the cycle of poverty, and Rachel Rollins, Chief Legal Counsel to the Massachusetts Port Authority, were ready to answer questions during the forum.

“About 77 percent of DA races go un-contested across the U.S.,” said Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program and “What a Difference a DA Makes” campaign for the ACLU of MA, to a crowded room. “There is a lack of opportunities for communities to engage but, this is what democracy looks like.”

Hall said that many folks don’t even know what goes on in a DA’s Office and most don’t even know that it is an elected position.

“We are working to make sure the country and residents of Suffolk County are engaged and active,” said Hall.

Candidates were allowed 90 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds for rebuttal. Questions ranged from are you too much of an insider or outsider to change things, to how to stop cycle of repeat offenders to how will the candidates make the office more diverse?

Champion said she has three areas she will focus on as District Attorney beside safety: education, housing and jobs.

“When you have all of these things you can have an environment that everyone can feel safe,” she said. “I’m in this race to focus on what is the problem and that’s the lives of our residents.”

Henning said his goal as DA would to make sure that everyone is protected, and to re-connect the community with law enforcement.

“I will not only ensure community policing to keep the streets safe but to help people to not to engage and re-engage with the justice system.”

Rollins said that to make a real difference more people of color and women need to work in the justice system.

“To get fairness, equity and justice you need more diversity in the people that serves those decisions,” said Rollins.

McAuliffe distanced herself from the pack by focusing on her current work at Roca, a non-profit that takes young adults who have a high chance of repeat offense and steers them in a different path by providing job training and other opportunities.

“I’m the only one here that hasn’t worked for a job opening,” said McAuliffe who took on the current DA during the last election. “Reform needs a reformer, and that’s who I am.”

Carvalho said that in order to seek justice you need to look at who is making the decisions. He pointed out that the people making the decisions are largely white and those going in and out of the DA’s office are largely people of color.

“I live in Dorchester and my constituents deal with it every day,” he said. “They are trapped without help every day, and that has to change. As DA I will be sure to change things.”

Current DA Dan Conley announced earlier this year that he will not be seeking re-election. Conley has held the office since February 2002.

This will be the second open candidate forum of the year. The primary for the Suffolk Country District Attorney race will be on Tuesday, Sept. 4. The general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Read More

MS-13 Leader Sentenced to 19 Years in Prison

MS-13 Leader Sentenced to 19 Years in Prison

A leader of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique was sentenced today in federal court in Boston.

Rafael Leoner Aguirre, a/k/a “Tremendo,” 22, a Salvadoran national, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 19 years in prison and three years of supervised release, which he will begin serving after completion of the state prison sentence for which he is currently incarcerated. Leoner Aguirre will also be subject to deportation upon the completion of his federal sentence. In November 2017, Leoner Aguirre was convicted by a federal jury after a multi-week trial of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.

Leoner Aguirre was the leader of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique. In 2013, Leoner Aguirre entered the United States illegally from El Salvador and initially moved to Michigan. From there, he began recruiting and planning MS-13 activities impacting Massachusetts. Among other things, Leoner Aguirre created recruitment videos for MS-13 and posted them on YouTube. This enabled younger gang members and associates to view these videos, including one witness who testified that he first saw these videos while at a local high school in Massachusetts.

In March 2014, Leoner Aguirre moved to the Chelsea area and immediately began activating, organizing, and supervising the Enfermos clique. As part of that activity, Leoner Aguirre encouraged members of the clique to attack and kill rival gang members, in addition to committing other racketeering acts such as robberies. Leoner Aguirre himself committed a number of racketeering acts, including an attempted murder in Chelsea where Leoner Aguirre struck a victim in the head with a machete.  Leoner Aguirre also committed an attempted murder involving a shooting, which is the incident for which he is currently serving a four-to-five year state prison sentence.  Leoner Aguirre committed both of these attempted murders in daylight on busy public streets in Chelsea.

The other members and associates of the Enfermos clique were Hector Ramires, a/k/a “Cuervo;” Bryan Galicia Barillas, a/k/a “Chucky;” David Lopez, a/k/a “Cilindro,” a/k/a “Villano;” Daniel Menjivar, a/k/a “Roca,” a/k/a “Sitiko;” Angel Pineda, a/k/a “Bravo;” and Kevin Ayala, a/k/a “Gallito.” Each of these defendants has pleaded guilty and will be subject to deportation upon the completion of their sentences.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Commissioner Thomas Turco of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections; Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger; Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Thompkins; Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley; Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Boston Police Commissioner William Evans; Chelsea Police Chief Brian A. Kyes; Everett Police Chief Steven A. Mazzie; Lynn Police Chief Michael Mageary; Revere Police Chief James Guido; and Somerville Police Chief David Fallon made the announcement.

Read More