The U.S. Postal Service is removing mailboxes from some major cities as a security precaution before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. According to a report by CNN, the removals will ensure that no postal workers or customers have a reason to get close to mailboxes in places where protests are expected to happen. The removals are temporary, and strategically placed.
"It's part of our normal procedures to keep our employees and customers safe during times of protest or when large crowds are gathered near postal facilities, on postal routes, or by mailboxes," USPS spokesman David Partenheimer told CNN on Saturday. Mailboxes are being temporarily removed in at least 17 states, plus Washington, D.C. Some will also be locked, with explanatory notices placed on them in the days before the inauguration.
The mailbox removals come after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in Washington, D.C., and the threats of more violent action by far-right extremists. The FBI warned that every single state capitol in the country faced a credible threat of violence on inauguration day, not to mention the Capitol building in D.C. itself.
With these concerns in mind, many states are taking great pains to ensure that Americans have their right to a peaceful protest, but that the crowds can go no further than that. The USPS is observing the same mindset, saying that it is aware of "planned protests or other situations involving large crowds."
Sadly, many officials are preparing for the worst when it comes to these demonstrations. The FBI's internal bulletin reportedly warns of "armed protests," with attendees carrying firearms — ostensibly to exercise their Second Amendment rights. The presence of weaponry only increases the likelihood that such gatherings could turn into dangerous clashes with the law enforcement there to protect elected officials.
This is the second time in a year the USPS has been drawn into hotly-contested politics, the first being the plan for absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic. The USPS and election officials were faced with an uphill battle to assure the public that mail-in voting was safe and reliable, in spite of years of experience and studies showing it was secure. At the same time, the Trump administration made huge cuts to the service, fearing that the increased voter turn-out would be mostly Democratic. Regardless of plans for protests and security concerns, the inauguration of Biden is moving forward on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.