“It is just a crime what is being done to the greatest postal system in the world,” said Cranston resident Garry Bliss. “And it is a crime against democracy that it is happening in the middle of a pandemic, on the eve of an election, with one goal, and that is to help steal an election.”
Just over 100 people rallied in Burnside Park in Providence, across the street from the Post Office located in the Federal Building on Exchange Street “as part of an urgent national effort to remove Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and save the Post Office from President Donald Trump.” Similar protests were scheduled outside post offices in Glocester, Warwick, East Greenwich and Bristol as part of a national effort led by led by the Working Families Party, MoveOn, SEIU and NAACP.
UpriseRI spoke to Cranston resident Garry Bliss, one of the organizers of the event, as he led a march around the Post Office.
“It is just a crime what is being done to the greatest postal system in the world,” said Bliss. “And it is a crime against democracy that it is happening in the middle of a pandemic, on the eve of an election, with one goal, and that is to help steal an election. People rely on the Post Office for social security checks, medicine, and cards from friends and family. And at a time when people are stuck at home, the connection the Post Office gives is incredibly important. The Post Office has been there for the entire history of this country. It’s what put the United in the United States, and we need to stand up and deliver for them, because they deliver for us every single day.”
The nationwide protests were announced days after Trump openly admitted he is blocking emergency funding for the Postal Service in an effort to hinder mail-in voting. According to the Washington Post, the Postal Service recently warned 46 states that “it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted.”
In addition to threatening postal workers who are on the frontlines of DeJoy’s harmful changes, the postmaster general’s new policies have prompted nationwide outrage following reports of prescription medicine delays, mailbox removals, and abrupt cuts to Post Office hours across the country.
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“Every single one of us has a job to do this election,” said Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. “Which is to battle the misinformation that is coming out of Washington, specifically coming out of the White House. Elections in our democracy need to be protected and nurtured. And we do that by exercising our right to vote.”
Other elected officials at the rally included Rhode Island Senator Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence) and Providence City Council President Sabina Matos.
Garry Bliss emceed the event.
“We like to protest things, but we don’t think about how we can prevent things from happening so we don’t even have to protest,” said Amanda “Brooklyn” Toussaint, from Prov X. “That comes from putting pressure on our politicians, making sure that when they vote, they have us in mind, because it’s us that they serve and represent…”
“The Postal Service is the single biggest source of union jobs in the United States,” said Andira Alves, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. “They nearly employ 22,000 union workers, 20% of whom are Black, 37% of whom are women. As many of us here know, unions empower us to come together as workers to fight for justice on the job in an attempt to balance the immense power an employer has over us…”
Later, speaking with UpriseRI reporter Will James, Alves added that the Post Office is “the most racially diverse workforce in the United States, so it shouldn’t be surprising if we know our history,” that the Post Office is under attack.
“This man of privilege is not going to be allowed to privatize the most popular and the most diverse federal agency in government,” said Jim Vincent, President of the Providence Branch of the NAACP about Postmaster DeJoy. “We’re not going to stand for it.”
Vincent went on to talk about the NAACP lawsuit against DeJoy.
Kyle Bennett, Director of Public Policy & Research at United Way of Rhode Island, spoke about Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
“When was America so great that you’d want to go back to that?” asked Bennett. What makes America great is “the spirit of dialog, the spirit of cooperation…”
Garry Bliss closes out the event.
As part of the opening of the event, Bill Harley sang for the crowd.
Here’s the live stream from Will James: