WASHINGTON — A group of protesters staged a "noise demonstration" Saturday morning outside of United States Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's home in Northwest D.C. amid allegations of limiting mail-in voting ahead of the 2020 Presidential election.
The demonstration was organized by the direct action group Shut Down D.C. They gathered in Kalorama Park in Adams Morgan on the corner of Kalorama Road and 19th Street and marched towards DeJoy's home.
“We're in the middle of a historic pandemic and as many as 40 percent of Americans plan on casting their ballot by mail. If we can't rely on those ballots getting to where they need to go, we've got a serious problem with democracy,” Patrick Young, an organizer with Shut Down D.C. said.
Members of the group came together to protest against DeJoy's leadership ahead of mail-in voting for the 2020 Presidential election.
The organization believes DeJoy is "dismantling" the U.S. Postal Service in favor of President Donald Trump's re-election. They said his actions contribute to voter suppression.
"DeJoy has fired or reassigned much of the existing USPS leadership and ordered the removal of mail sorting machines that are fundamental to the functioning of the postal service. Meanwhile, mail delivery is slowing down under other decisions made by DeJoy, such as eliminating overtime for postal workers," the group said in a statement.
“I think they're totally trying to sabotage the election. I mean in in so many words Trump has said it," Saturday morning protester Medea Benjamin said. “We have to wake up the American people, no matter who you want in the White House.”
Protesters chanted, sang, and banged on pots and pans outside of DeJoy's District resident for about an hour Saturday morning. Some neighbors, who seemed confused at first, joined the protest which had a portion of Connecticut Ave. closed to traffic.
Some protesters stuffed fake absentee ballots and letters into the Postmaster General’s apartment lobby door.
“I feel very worried about the upcoming election," Benjamin said. "I feel like the Postmaster General is part of a larger scheme that's not going to count out votes, that’s gonna steal this election, I am so worried about the future of our democracy that I thought it was important to get up early this morning and make some noise."
The USPS recently sent letters of warning to 46 states, including Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, indicating that it could not guarantee all mail-in ballots cast for the November election would arrive in time to be counted. D.C. and six other states were told that only a narrow set of voters may be affected, but Virginia and Maryland and 38 other states received a "heightened warning" that USPS could not meet state-mandated deadlines.
USPS officials "have warned they will run out of money by the end of September without help from Congress," the Associated Press reports. The organization reported a $4.5 billion loss in Q1, before the pandemic fully took hold in the U.S.
In an interview on Fox Business Network, President Trump was frank about his intentions for stalling USPS funding proposals from the Democrats.
“If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,” Trump said. “That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”
The president later indicated on Friday that he would support a financial bailout for the postal service in exchange for republican priorities which include a payroll tax cut and more loans for small businesses.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who has donated to Trump and other Republicans, has said that the agency is in a financially untenable position, but he maintains it can handle this year's election mail. The cost-cutting measures taken by USPS have led to mail delays across the country.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations, is calling for the resignation of DeJoy.
“Postmaster General DeJoy’s brief term has already become one of the darkest in USPS history," Connolly said in a statement. "On the eve of a presidential election, in the midst of the worst public health pandemic in 100 years, Mr. DeJoy has pledged his allegiance to the political expedience of President Trump at the expense of protecting our democracy and access to the ballot. He has deliberately enacted policies to sabotage the Postal Service to serve only one person, President Trump. He has failed the American people. Mr. DeJoy must resign.”
Maryland Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) were two of more than two dozen senators who sent a letter to DeJoy urging USPS to fix delays.
“Since you assumed the role of Postmaster General, there have been disturbing reports regarding changes at USPS that are causing significant delays in the delivery of mail," the letter said. "Under normal circumstances, delayed mail is a major problem – during a pandemic in the middle of a presidential election, it is catastrophic.”
In a recent incident, Southeast D.C. residents claimed that they did not receive their mail in a period of two weeks. One resident told WUSA9 that the community reached out to USPS, but nothing had been done.
In a statement from USPS on Thursday, it said they are reviewing staffing and scheduling.
“Rest assured, we take customer concerns seriously and remain fully committed to delivering mail in a timely, consistent manner,” a USPS statement said. “We continue to review our staffing and scheduling and make necessary adjustments to enhance our services.”
With some mail being delayed during a pandemic and before a major election, protesters said Saturday morning that there is a serious problem with democracy.
“We're in the middle of a historic pandemic, and as many as 40% of Americans plan on casting their ballot by mail. If we can't rely on those ballots getting to where they need to go, we've got a serious problem with democracy," Young said.
DeJoy, or any resident, was not seen leaving the front of the apartment building Saturday morning.