LA postal workers protest violence, demand protection

LA postal workers protest violence, demand protection
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Despite Gavin Newsom’s claims to the contrary, Cailfornia’s gun control laws have not turned the state into a crime-free paradise. As we covered over the weekend, violent crime has actually been trending up for most of the past decade, and few parts of the state have been spared.


In the Los Angeles area, postal workers say their job has become so dangerous that the status quo has become untenable. Last week dozens of letter carriers protested outside of the USPS office in Compton, decrying the robberies and assaults that are becoming an all-too-common hazard of the job.

Brian Renfroe, president of the postal workers’ union, said the violence is perplexing because letter carriers have been able to walk down “the meanest streets of the country without a problem” for the nearly 250 years since the Postal Service formed.
“Nobody messed with us,” Renfroe said. “Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.”
Since 2020, there have been more than 2,000 violent attacks on letter carriers represented by the NALC, which has more than 30,000 members in California, union leaders said this week.
In the first eight months of 2023, there were 20 robberies involving letter carriers in Lakewood alone, said Eli Torres, an NALC branch vice president.
“This problem is growing,” Renfroe, the union president, said in a speech to workers at the Compton rally this week. Targeted armed robberies, assaults and shootings, he said, have become “part of our job.”
Renfroe called for the federal government to help. An estimated 14% of crimes against letter carriers have been federally prosecuted and resulted in an arrest, he said.
“You know what that tells me?” he asked. “That 86% of the people that do this get away with it. That has to change.”
If suspects believe they can get away with these crimes, it stands to reason they’re going to be emboldened to commit them time and again. A 14% clearance rate is abysmally low, even for California, where less than half of all violent crimes in recent years have resulted in an arrest. While just over half of all aggravated assaults in the state are solved, only about one-third of robberies lead to an arrest.
So what can be done? One union rep told the LA Times that the most effective deterrent comes from residents, who can and should speak up and contact authorities when they see a crime being committed. That’s certainly helpful, but honestly, the most effective deterrent would be letter carriers being able to carry to protect themselves from incidents like these.
Last year, a Compton letter carrier was pistol-whipped in the head while making a delivery.
And in September, another Compton carrier — a colleague of Lee’s — had a gun pulled on him while delivering mail.
That carrier, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear for his safety on his route, had just dropped off some mail at a residence when a man started yelling at him and cussing him out.
The resident was furious that the mail banged during a delivery, the letter carrier said.
The carrier said he did not report the verbal assault to his bosses because he worried residents would know it was him who snitched. He returned to the street two days later — and the resident who had yelled aimed a gun at his face.
“I’m thinking, ‘Dude, this is it for me,’” he told The Times.
The carrier still walks his route, but he avoids the man’s street, he said.

Unless the USPS is going to assign a bodyguard to each and every letter carrier, there’s no way for the agency to guarantee the safety and security of those postal employees who walk (and ride) through the mean streets of their route on a daily basis. At best those employees can hope that if they’re the victim of an assault or robbery there’ll be enough evidence to lead to an arrest and conviction.


Given that this is southern California we’re talking about, I’m sure that plenty of postal workers would decline to carry a firearm even if it were an option for them, but my guess is that at least some letter carriers would take advantage of their Second Amendment right to bear arms in self-defense if they could do so without losing their job. Carrying a gun, even with a concealed carry license, isn’t just a fireable offense for USPS employees. It’s punishable by fines and even the possibility of prison time. As a result, armed criminals know that letter carriers are defenseless targets, and if things are as bad as the protesting postal workers say they are, then it’s high time to allow these folks access to their 2A rights when they’re on the streets and exposed to danger.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member