Compton letter carriers rally against violence in front of post office.  (Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

 The National Association of Letter Carriers join local and state representatives to highlight surge of violence against mail carriers.

On Wednesday, October 4, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) held a rally in front of the Compton Post Office to bring community awareness to violent assaults on letter carriers. According to NALC and Compton letter carriers at the rally, they are becoming targets of robberies and physical assaults as they deliver the mail to residents and businesses in the area.

“Everyone is here today because enough is enough,” said Keisha Lewis, a national business agent for letter carriers, who oversees all of California, Hawaii, Nevada and Guam.

“When I got hired, it was unheard of for a letter carrier to be approached or attacked by anyone, and that has to stop.”

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“The Postal Service was founded nearly 250 years ago and since then, letter carriers have been able to walk down even the meanest streets of this country without many problems,” said Brian Renfroe, NALC national president.

“Remember, no one messed with us. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case.”

According to the United States Postal Inspection Service Annual Report, violent crimes, specifically robberies, increased in 2022. In fact, robberies of postal carriers went up 78% to almost 500 last year. Patrick Johnson, Compton postmaster, shared what he has been hearing from letter carriers.

“Basically, a lot of them don’t feel safe out there delivering mail,” said Johnson. “People breaking into vehicles, then the customers are constantly complaining to the carrier about they’re not getting their mail.”

NALC National President Brian Renfroe speaks at rally on violence against letter carriers. (Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

“It’s unacceptable, it’s appalling and it’s out of control,” said Renfroe. “Since 2020, around this country, there have been 2000 violent attacks on letter carriers, the members that we represent. This problem is growing, not just here in Compton, not just here in Southern California, but around the entire country.”

Renfroe continued, “Over the past several weeks, we’ve had events like this in Chicago. We’ve had events in Cincinnati to bring attention to these violent attacks against our members. And that’s why we’re here once again tonight to send a very clear message. This violence against our members has to stop.

“Nearly every single day, we hear of additional incidents of violence against our members. Think about this: targeted armed robberies, assaults, shootings and even murder have become part of our job.”

Members of NALC along with a representative from the Compton Mayor’s office and a representative of Congresswoman Maxine Waters attended the rally in support. Passing cars honked their horns in support of the rally as letter carriers chanted “enough is enough.” Lewis wants the violence to stop and wants justice to prevail.

“We have to allow our letter carriers to deliver the mail and not be in fear if they’re going to get robbed while they’re delivering mail, it has to stop,” said Lewis. “When it does happen, they need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”

The United Stated Postal Inspection Services state that the safety and security of their letter carriers is priority, and they seek to raise awareness around the issues in their 2022 report. Renfroe shared a different take at the rally in Compton. He also spoke on how there needs to be harsher punishment for crimes against letter carriers.

“We are left to defend ourselves because the Postal Inspection Service is not protecting us,” said Renfroe. “And the Department of Justice is not doing its job.”

A common request from letter carriers to the public is look out for them and help when you can by sharing information with law enforcement. (Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

He continued, “The word is out on the street and the people that commit these crimes are not smart. But word is out, and they know if they commit one of these crimes, there’s a good chance that they’ll get away with it because in the last three years, 14% of these crimes have been prosecuted federally and resulted in an arrest.

“You know what that tells me? That there’s a strong message being sent that 86% of the people that do this, get away with it and that has to change.”

When asked what the community could do to get involved, Johnson suggested that residents step for their mail carriers.

“A lot of them need to speak up,” said Johnson. “You know, a lot of people got the ring cameras and stuff like that.

“They need to just come forward with the footage. At least we’d get the license plate numbers or description of the people that’s breaking into the vehicles so we can pass it on to the Police Department.”

“There’s this simple concept of ‘we love to serve you,’ so just look out for us,” said Renfroe. “If you notice anything out of the ordinary, report it to the local authorities, local law enforcement.

“And then sometimes, it’s something as simple as if you walk out to get your mail on the porch and you see a letter carrier walking down the street, stand there, watch them walk down the street. Sometimes something as simple as that can be the difference.

“A potential witness can be the difference in one of these crimes happening or not.”

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