CHAGRIN FALLS — About 30 sign-carrying, mask-wearing people gathered on the tree lawn last Saturday outside the U.S. Post Service Office on East Washington to remind passers-by that the fight to restore full postal services, jobs and machinery was not over.
Organizer Rebecca Thomas, a village resident, said “while the situation is somewhat resolved, we want the machines put back and overtime continued.”
The resolution she referred to was the congressional hearings into why mail sorting machines were junked or idled and service and delivery slowed ahead of the Nov. 3 general election with a nationwide push for mail-in ballots, especially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday’s rally was a mixed bag of young adults, babies in strollers, older individuals with canes and walkers and even a participant with some people on canes and walkers and at least one dog.
Some drivers, including a letter carrier in a mail truck, honked their horns in solidarity with the protesters holding handmade signs.
“Stamp out P.O. Intervention,” said one. “Weakening the P.O. is unconstitutional,” said another.
The protest came just before Monday’s Congressional Oversight Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., where Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified about why drastic changes were made to services not just related to the upcoming election, but also due to citizens’ needs for medications, pension checks and other necessary items delivered by mail. Mr. DeJoy, who began the job in June, rolled back some of the changes last week, but critics say much of the damage to basic services cannot be undone that quickly.
According to Ray Kolcaba of Chagrin Falls “Ben Franklin said it (postal service) was the right of every American in big towns and small.”
His sign read, “American as mom, apple pie and the postal service.”
Mr. Franklin was the colonies’ first postmaster general but lost the job in 1774 when he acted as any revolutionary would.
According to historians, he helped leak letters – written by the British governor of Massachusetts – to a friend who gave them to a Boston newspaper. The letters described just how far the British would go to stifle the colonists.
Meanwhile, back in Chagrin Falls on an August day in the 21st Century, the post office defenders carried on.
One sign carrier displayed her sentiments about the postmaster general, a President Donald J. Trump appointee. “DeJoy, [you’re] fired,” it said referring to the sudden changes made in services.
Another placard cited a quote by Mr. DeJoy who, referring to mail-in ballots, stated it was “a sacred duty (to deliver ballots) securely and on time.”
“Those are his words,” said the Chagrin Falls man carrying the sign.
Diana Nazelli of Chagrin Falls, a longtime local activist, was also on the tree lawn on Saturday after successfully completing her last round of chemotherapy and declaring a new state of remission.
“Not everyone has a bank account so they depend on the post office to deliver their checks and others their medications because some health plans determine that it is not cost effective to use walk-in pharmacies,” she said.
“Restore overtime. Restore sorting machines,” Ms. Nazelli added, referring to changes made by Mr. DeJoy.
While local people rallied in Chagrin Falls, the U.S. Congress voted to beef up the postal service with a $25 billion measure approved by the House of Representatives in a rare bipartisan vote.
The bill awaits Senate consideration when it reconvenes after Labor Day following its summer recess.
Saturday’s rally was organized by Patriots for Change, a progressive organization which was founded by Ms. Thomas and Judy Kramer.