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Demonstrators: 'Don't mess with the mail'

For physician Tiah Foster, joining the well-attended Saturday protest outside the Ashland Post Office was an easy call.

“I get my prescription meds and Social Security in the U.S. mail,” the Ashland doctor said. “I get my meds from India through Canada. This guy (Postmaster General Louis DeJoy) wants to cut overtime and sorting machines? He’s a disaster. He has to go. Lots of older people need vote-by-mail. This is hurting lots of people.”

Some 50 protesters braved the heat on Lithia Way, waving signs that said, “Don’t mess with the mail,” “No to voter suppression,” “Support USPS; buy stamps,” and “Mail is an essential service.”

Foster’s sign said, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat nor Donald Trump. We (heart) USPS.”

Like most protesters, Foster laid the controversial postal changes at the feet of Trump, “who thinks if there’s no vote-by-mail, he will win. There’s no proof that’s true. And saying the mail needs to be a money-maker is wrong, too. It’s not a business. It’s a service.”

Liz Hicks said she’s protesting because “I want to save this election and this institution of the post office. It’s obviously sabotage, coming just before the election. You’re supposed to make it easier, not harder to vote. It’s really making me nervous. I love my mail.”

Rachel Murphy of Ashland, who worked at the Ashland Post Office until the end of last year, said reductions in mail service mean more dependence on private carriers and, although much reorganization is needed, “privatization will mean more cost and less service” with USPS.

Brad Hagen said mail is “an essential service that’s been around since the founding of the country ... and Trump has had years to change it, way before the election. It’s obvious the changes now are partisan, to affect the election. What it does is undermine trust in the post office, the election and one another. It’s anti-democratic.”

Amid the blasting of many car horns, rally participant Jeremy Kotler said, “Defunding the Post Office so you can’t vote by mail is a bad idea. We need to keep people safe during the pandemic,” by avoiding crowds at polling spots.

Annie O’Shea, also among the protesters, said her love of the post office is a very personal thing in life. “I send mail all the time to friends and family. I love the post office, and I love sitting down and writing letters, and everyone knows you took the time to do it, instead of just texting. I even love standing in line at the post office. It’s special to me. And only the post office delivers to poorer and more remote locations, so it would hurt the lower class and working class a lot. Kneecapping the Postal Service will not make money. They’re not supposed to make money.”

Her friend, Elise Michelle, added: “It’s too important to be dismantled, and voter suppression is absolutely not OK and ridiculous.”

Janet Greek said, “We can’t take a chance of not having an honest election. We can’t let Trump interfere with our civil rights. Messing with the post office is just one step closer to fascism.”

Alan and Caren Burgess displayed a homemade sign that said, MAGA, “Mail Abolition’s Greatest Atrocity.” Caren Burgess said, “I feel all norms and rules are at risk and that our democracy is being slowly chipped away. This is way over the top. I can’t be silent and this is ridiculous.”

Removal of mail-sorting machines “was the most upsetting thing,” said Melissa Mitchell-Hooge. “Congress needs to intervene and remove DeJoy. He’s done so much that’s destructive. We have to protect free and fair elections and we’re depending on full service of the post office more than ever.”

The protest was part of nationwide rallies at the same hour. Other events took place locally in Medford, Talent, Central Point and Shady Cove.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

People wave signs at passing motorists Saturday in front of the Ashland Post Office to show their support and protest recent actions to limit the scope of the U.S. Postal Service. Photo by Denise Baratta
People wave signs at passing motorists Saturday in front of the Ashland Post Office to show their support and protest recent actions to limit the scope of the U.S. Postal Service. Photo by Denise Baratta