U.S.P.S. Stops Mail to Santa Monica Block After ‘Assaults’

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — When his mail stopped coming in about a week ago, residents of a tidy block near the beach on Los Angeles County’s west side were stumped.

At first, Charlotte Jay said, “I just thought I didn’t have any.” A day or so passed. She expected a certified letter. Then a neighbor tipped her off: her mail was suspended.

Ms. Jay added: “I was like: ‘What?'”

The outage was explained in a letter from the United States Postal Service, but some residents said they had not initially received or seen it.

According to the note, delivery service had stopped at “all addresses located in the 1300 block of 14th Street” following multiple “assaults and threats of assault” against postal workers by a person in the neighborhood.

“The safety of our employees and the mail delivered to you is our greatest concern,” the letter said, adding that until service resumed, residents could pick up their mail at a nearby post office.

“The whole block? It’s an extreme measure,” Jay, a stockbroker, said Tuesday afternoon outside her apartment, where she had just returned from a walk with her brown terrier mix.

She added: “I was shocked and angry.”

Service to the area resumed on Tuesday, but the episode is gone lingering questions about residents’ expectations of mail delivery, one of the few constants left in a world upended (and quickened by anger) by the coronavirus pandemic. It has also highlighted the right to safety of postal workers who, like other essential workers, have struggled for the past two years, hand-delivering the nation’s letters, bills and paychecks, day in and day out.

Police confirmed that on January 19, a man assaulted a mail carrier in Santa Monica with a broomstick.

“The victim sustained a minor injury to his arm and did not require medical attention,” the Santa Monica Police Department said in a statement.

Although the Postal Service has cited episodes involving “three separate mail carriers” in Santa Monica, police said they had received information about only one attack.

A suspect was arrested and charged in the Jan. 19 assault, police said, but those charges were dropped after the victim decided not to proceed. That same suspect was arrested April 6 on unrelated charges of “misdemeanor vandalism and possession of drug paraphernalia.” the police said.

Police said authorities were trying to locate other postal workers who may have been victims as part of their ongoing investigation.

“It is unfortunate that these three carriers have experienced this,” Natashi Garvins, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, said by phone Wednesday. The service, she added, can and does occasionally suspend mail delivery, though she said she couldn’t provide numbers or say if any had been done previously in response to attacks on letter carriers.

“It could happen for any number of reasons,” Ms. Garvins said, adding that the Postal Service will always try to provide alternative means for people to pick up their mail.

In the case of Santa Monica, he added, the service had decided to cancel mail to the entire block because the person responsible for the three episodes “could be anywhere.” In the area.

However, the harassment of postmen does not seem to be an isolated thing.

In New York, police launched an investigation last June after a mail carrier was attacked by two people on his route through Brooklyn. In Providence, RI, a federal grand jury indicted a man in January on charges of assaulting and robbing a postal worker in September. In Arizona, a man assaulted a postal worker in May after she asked for her identification.

Marjon Barrigan Husted, Spokesperson for the US Postal Inspector, he said Wednesday that he was not aware of any recent spike in such episodes in Los Angeles.

The American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Some residents said they were familiar with the person they believed had attacked the postal workers. They described it as transient and erratic. One man, a valet worker who asked not to be identified for his safety, said he had seen the man swing a golf club at a postal worker. Another said that after the January 19 attack, his regular postman suddenly disappeared.

Cori Newman, 49, a local restaurant manager, said the person in question he had approached her several times at work, as well as after hours in the neighboring parking lot.

“I lived in Santa Monica a long time ago when I was a kid and never felt like it was dangerous before,” Mrs. Newman said. Now, she said she, keep a baseball bat and pepper spray behind the bar. “If I have to use it,” she said, “I have to use it.”

Others, however, said that aside from recent episodes, the neighborhood was largely peaceful. “I think it’s sad,” said Jim Price, 55.

“This is Santa Monica,” he added. “It’s safe; it’s a nice beachside community in the city.”

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