On Canal Street, Demonstrators Join National Rally to 'Save the Post Office'

Demonstrators stand on the steps of the post office at Canal and Church Streets. They were among some 800 rallies planned for Saturday morning, Aug. 22. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Aug. 23, 2020

The demonstrators, small in number but passionate in support of their local post office, stood on the steps of the Canal Street Station on Saturday morning, Aug. 22, one of hundreds of such protests around the country that morning.

“Don’t Mess With My Mail,” “4 Million Prescriptions Delivered Daily,” Preserve Our Votes,” the signs read, as the House prepared to pass legislation that would aid the Postal Service in handling an expected deluge of mail-in votes this November. They are countering what they say are politicized cost-cutting moves and other changes to the postal system by the Trump administration. 

“The mail down here has been very reliable for many years,” said Neal Marshad, a 43-year Tribeca resident. “It’s come like clockwork through 9/11, thorough Sandy, through all the calamities. But Trump arrives and slows it down during a pandemic so he can favor his election results. It’s outrageous.”

“Hoping to favor his election results,” echoed Barbara Knight, from Soho, who said a “horrendous slow-down” by the postal service has already endangered people who receive their prescriptions by mail.

Knight had volunteered to host the event, sponsored nationally by the organization MoveOn. “When I didn’t see one listed for this post office I thought we need to protect it, and our postal workers,” she said.

A few of the protesters marched around the block, circling back past the post office loading dock on Lispenard Street. As he walked, holding his “#SaveThePostOffice” sign, Gene Lui expressed his outrage at Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Trump donor at the center of the controversy. Though DeJoy told a House committee last week that cost-cutting and efficiency measures will be delayed until after the election, Lui, like many critics, claimed that the damage has been done.

“DeJoy has made sure that a lot of [sorting] machines have been removed and they’re actually destroying these machines. Brazen!” said Lui, an Upper West Sider who was Downtown to care for his mother in Chinatown. “Can it be more obvious? Do you really need it spelled out more clearly that Trump does not want the people who won’t vote for him to vote?” (Trump has made unsupported claims that voting by mail will be rife with fraud.)

In a statement, the U.S Postal Service reiterated its position that it is “fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time, and will do everything necessary to meet this sacred duty.” 

For Darnell Martin, a demonstrator from Soho who stood at the top of the post office stairs, that duty is being undermined.

“We have a democracy. Well, the idea of one,” Martin said. But we just have a whole bunch of corrupt people trying to disassemble it at the moment, and it’s our time right now to fight for it.”