Twin Cities postal workers rally over reported spike in targeted robberies, assaults

Twin Cities postal workers rally over reported spike in targeted robberies, assaults

Twin Cities postal workers rally over reported spike in targeted robberies, assaults

Letter carriers for the United States Postal Service (USPS) say violent crimes — namely assaults and robberies — against them have been through the roof in recent years.

Union leadership for the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) at a rally on the steps of Minneapolis’ central post office on Sunday said U.S. Postal Inspection Service data shows there have been 2,000 attacks against letter carriers across the country since 2020.

That’s a major escalation from years past, according to the union, and it was enough to spark “Enough is Enough” rallies across the country, including in the Twin Cities, where there have been three attacks in the last month-and-a-half, according to NALC Branch 9 Executive Vice President Joseph Tiemann.

“We want to feel like we can do our job without having to look over our shoulders,” said longtime north Minneapolis letter carrier Manon Wojack.

“We just want to go home safe to each other,” she said.

NALC President Brian Renfroe, also in town for the rally, said the majority of attacks that included “targeted armed robberies, assaults, shootings, and yes, even murder” involved a gun or other weapon.

“Nearly every day, we learn of some sort of violence against our members,” he said.

In Dec. 2022, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a letter carrier was shot and killed during a robbery, said the NALC National Business Agent for Region 7, which includes Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The NALC reports there have been two robberies of letter carriers at gunpoint and one theft from a mail truck just since mid-November in the Twin Cities.

“On Nov. 18, a letter carrier in Edina was held up at gunpoint for some postal equipment,” Tiemann said, adding, “The very next morning, a carrier out of Brooklyn Center was held up at gunpoint for some postal equipment.”

Thankfully, no one was hurt, he said, “but the trauma lives.”

There have been two assaults on letter carriers in St. Paul since 2020, one in 2021 and one in 2022, the NALC also reported.

Violence against postal workers is a federal crime, and in mid-2023, USPS launched Project Safe Delivery. The initiative included giving out rewards for information about crimes against postal workers and stepping up targeted law enforcement efforts that the agency, in October, said resulted in more than 600 arrests.

The problem is that NALC leadership says U.S. Postal Inspection Service data shows that just 14% of the more than 2,000 attacks since 2020 have actually gone on to be federally prosecuted.

“Do you know what message that sends to people on the street?” Renfroe emphasized from the podium, calling on the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Justice to “do its job.”

“Our members are left to defend themselves, because the Postal Inspection Service is not doing its job, and the Department of Justice is failing to prosecute the criminals responsible,” he said.

“For many, many, many, many years, there was a mindset among the public and the people that we serve, that, ‘That’s a federal employee. If I do something to that employee, that’s a federal crime, and I’m going to jail,'” he added in an interview after the rally.

“We have to make that a reality every time.”

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service did not immediately respond to requests for comment and to confirm its data on Sunday.

A spokesperson for USPS only said that the agency “respect[s] our employees’ rights to express their opinions and participate in informational picketing while off the clock.”

Renfroe also asked everyone to keep an eye out and report right away to police “anything unusual” happening with your neighborhood letter carrier.