Around 50 local postal workers gathered outside the entrance of the main U.S. Post Office in downtown Minneapolis on a chilly Sunday morning. They were chanting “enough is enough.”
The rally was organized by National Association of Letter Carriers, which has mobilized postal workers in big cities across the U.S. since August to fight against a rise in attacks against mail carriers. This comes after two letter carriers in Edina and Brooklyn Center were held at gunpoint for postal equipment in November.
Daniel Brito, 20, delivers mail in south Minneapolis and said hearing about the instances in Edina and Brooklyn Center made him fear for his life.
He was at the rally holding a sign that said “My Safety is Flat Rate Priority.”
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!
"I wrote it because I just wanted to tell everyone that, you know, my safety is important. I’m a pretty small guy, and I just deliver mail and anybody could basically overpower me. And I just want to know that the federal law will back me up, and they’ll persecute these people to the full extent of it,” he said.
Since 2020, the letter carrier association reports there have been over 2,000 attacks against carriers across the country and a majority of them involved a gun or weapon.
Patrick Johnson, 54, oversees postal services for Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. He said there have been more than 30 “violent attacks” in the region during 2022 and 2023.
The most extreme case was in Milwaukee in December 2022 when a mail carrier was shot and killed. Robberies have ramped up around the holiday season, targeting packages, letters with money and, more recently, arrow keys — the master key with access to collections boxes, according to Johnson.
“We’re working longer hours now because of the staffing and stuff like that. So now, a lot of times we’re working, it gets dark. And these violent attacks… you got to pay attention when you’re delivering in the dark, but now you got to watch over your shoulder for violent criminals to come and attack you for an arrow key. You know, it’s just ridiculous,” said Johnson.
He and other postal workers are urging federal prosecutors to prioritize cases involving mail carriers. They want to send a message that robbing a carrier is a federal crime with “severe consequences.”
“There’s a 14 percent conviction rate and that’s just totally unacceptable. When you violently assault a letter carrier, they should be prosecuted under federal law. And that’s why we’re trying to not only get the post office to enact more safety procedures for the letter carriers, but to also get the prosecutors to directly go after and prosecute these criminals under federal law,” said Johnson.