Milwaukee held one of 700 demonstrations that took place as part in the #SaveThePostOffice Saturday, a national day of action on August 22 in which people across the United States demanded that President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy end their assault on the U.S. Postal Service.
A crowd of local residents gathered in front of the United States Postal Service location at 345 W. St. Paul Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. They rallied in effort to raise awareness about the need for USPS to run smoothly so that not only absentee ballots could be sent and received on time before Election Day, but also everything delivered by mail that millions of citizens depended on.
On August 21, United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, telling lawmakers he had “no intention” of returning hundreds of mail sorting machines that have been decommissioned in recent weeks. The effort was designed to dramatically cut the ability of postal workers to deliver mail quickly. The postmaster general falsely claimed the machines were not needed.
“The changes already in place have caused slowdowns. These changes are endangering some of the most vulnerable citizens in our country. We can’t have folks waiting in line getting sick, that pandemic is real. I almost died,” said Greg Lewis, executive director of Souls to the Polls. “There won’t even be a need for an election if we don’t have this opportunity for absentee ballots because the COVID-19 pandemic. We have to help them understand that your vote matters. We have to help them understand that the US Postal Service matters.”
The removal of machines in battleground states including Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan will have serious implications for the general election in November, civil rights advocates have warned, as many Americans—particularly Democratic voters—plan to vote by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic.
DeJoy announced he was suspending changes to mail operations until after the November election to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail,” but made clear that he has no plans to return mailboxes and sorting machines that were removed or restore overtime hours that he cut.
“The idea that anyone would use the post office to take away someone’s right to vote, that should be treason,” said Milwaukee County Supervisor Steven Shea. The situation was especially personal for Shea, because his father had been postal worker for three decades after his discharge from the military.
The president has also said he would block emergency funding for the Postal Service and for election assistance, saying that the funding would allow for “universal mail-in voting,” which he has falsely claimed would result in a fraudulent election.
“They’re going to destroy a service that everyone relies on. that goes everywhere in the country,” said Gordon Skare, a retired letter carrier in Milwaukee for more than two decades. “My message is save the post office, and make sure the things that Dejoy has done do not succeed. I, myself, as a veteran, get my meds through the mail and so I don’t want my meds delayed. I happen to get social security and I don’t want to have that delayed.”
Portions of this article were originally published on Common Dreams as Nearly 700 Protests Planned for Saturday at Post Offices Across Country as DeJoy Slammed for Defense of Mail Sabotage