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‘Why Did They Protect Betsy DeVos?’: Federal Marshals Deny Request for Security Detail to First Black U.S. Attorney In Massachusetts Despite Direct Death Threats

The U.S. Marshals Service won’t provide a full-time security detail to the first Black U.S. attorney confirmed to that post in Massachusetts, leaving her without that federal protection although she’s receiving escalating death threats.

The Senate confirmed Rachael Rollins to the post earlier this month. During the confirmation, Republicans characterized Rollins as a pro-criminal prosecutor with an “unhinged personality.”

The Senate confirmed Rachael Rollins to the post earlier this month. During the confirmation, Republicans characterized Rollins as a pro-criminal prosecutor with an “unhinged personality. (Photo: WCVB/ YouTube screenshot)

Rollins previously refused to prosecute some minor offenses. Threats intensified after Republicans framed Rollins as soft on crime in her job as Suffolk County district attorney.

“You’ll probably die,” read one message sent to the Suffolk County District’s Attorney’s Office.


Rollins turned over the threats she’s received to the U.S. Marshals Service, requesting a full security detail. But federal officials rejected the argument that the attorney is in serious danger, the Boston Globe reports.

People familiar with the situation told the Globe one of the people who sent a threatening message later apologized, and that officials concluded Rollins is at a low risk for becoming the target of violence.

Rollins has served as the Suffolk district attorney since 2019 and receives protection from a Boston police unit. She has not yet been sworn in as a U.S. attorney but is set to start the new job in January.

The Senate confirmed Rollins, who has led investigations in Boston into police misconduct and invalidated past drug convictions, on Dec. 8 by a vote of 51-50.

All Republicans voted against her confirmation, and Vice President Kamala Harris broke the tie.

The marshals’ handling of Rollins’ security concerns contrasts with what that the agency did for a Donald Trump Cabinet member. After protesters heckled now-former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in February 2017 during her visit to a Washington middle school, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions granted her 24/7 protection from the marshals.

Betsy DeVos (Credit: United States Department of Education/Wiki)

Politico reported last year that DeVos’ security detail cost taxpayers $24 million over a four-year period.

At the time, officials defended the use of the tax dollars.

“Year after year, the press reports on the cost of the Secretary’s security detail,” Education Department spokesperson Angela Morabito said in a statement. “What goes unreported are the threats to the Secretary’s safety, which necessitate the security detail in the first place. The people who make the threats are at fault here, not the person receiving them.”

Rollins has previously highlighted the dangers of the kinds of threats Black women receive.

“A lot of people don’t recognize [that] as women and as women of color, and particularly as a Black woman, the level of racist, hate-filled death threats that we receive,” she told GBH’s Greater Boston.

On Twitter, users criticized federal officials’ decision not to provide security for Rollins after DeVos was granted a security detail.

One user wrote: “Rachael Rollins, the new US Attorney for MA has turned over emails to the Marshals Service that contained death threats on her life, including one that affirmed: “you’ll probably die.” The Service turned down her request for protection. Why did they protect Cruella Betsy DeVos?”

Another added, using the #protectblackwomen. “So DeVos got protection because she was heckled by some protesters but Rollins, who has received direct death threats, doesn’t get a second glance. Really? #protectblackwomen”

Another user was just plain confused, “Betsy deVos felt threatened by protestors and received 24/7 protection… is there something in Rollins’ background I missed that would preclude her from protection? Krav maga or ninja training??”

The U.S. Marshals Service actively protects about 40,000 federal employees.

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