Musician Joe Troop sang his new song, “A Plea to the US Government to Fully Fund the Postal Service,” in front of hundreds of protesters Sunday in Greensboro.
“It’s not a protest in North Carolina until the banjo comes out,” reads the now-viral tweet.
The tweet captured Joe Troop—a Winston-Salem native and member of the Grammy-nominated bluegrass and Latin fusion group Che Apalache—mid-song, extolling the virtues of the US Postal Service in a crowd of protesters as cars filed past.
Troop performed his new song, “A Plea to the US Government to Fully Fund the Postal Service,” in front of hundreds of protesters Sunday at the Greensboro home of embattled US Postmaster Louis DeJoy.
In an interview with Cardinal & Pine afterward, Troop said the Postal Service is particularly important in North Carolina’s rural areas.
“A lot of people get paid through the postal service,” he said. “They get goods delivered to their homes. Disabled people are very dependent on it.”
The tweet featuring Troop’s performance of the song at the Greensboro protest had garnered more than 64,000 views as of Wednesday afternoon.
“Staging a protest in front of the most exclusive country club, outside Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s Greensboro home, in defense of the Postal Service is exactly what we should be doing right now,” Troop said in a separate statement. “ The richest people in our country are trying to usurp our Democracy.”
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According to The Greensboro News & Record, speakers representing the US Postal Service, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and others addressed that crowd, which held signs saying “Let America Vote” and “Don’t allow DeJoy to Demolish democracy.”
Some have accused DeJoy, a Trump supporter, of attempting to sabotage the election on the president’s behalf.
Troop’s song was commissioned by RuralOrganizing.org, a progressive advocacy group which has been working on a campaign since last summer to strengthen the US Postal Service.
DeJoy is a North Carolina logistics executive and prolific Republican fundraiser who was appointed by Trump to lead the postal service in May. He is married to Aldona Wos, who is awaiting confirmation from the US Senate as Trump’s ambassador for Canada. Some North Carolinians may recall Wos also served as the controversial head of the NC Department of Health and Human Services under former Republican Gov. Pat McCroy.
DeJoy instituted a controversial reorganization of the postal service on Aug. 7. Last week, CNN obtained documents that indicated that 671 mail sorting machines were slated for “reduction” in postal facilities across the country this year.
And some postal workers have accused DeJoy of removing experienced high-level managers and high-speed mail sorting machines, The Greensboro News & Record reported. DeJoy has denied the allegations.
As the controversy ballooned, President Trump, a longtime critic of the postal service, continued to make false claims without evidence that mail-in voting can lead to widespread election fraud. Despite that, some North Carolina voters have been receiving absentee ballot request forms through the mail that prominently feature Trump’s face on them.
On Tuesday afternoon, DeJoy issued a statement saying the service was suspending several of his initiatives until after the election. Hours of operation will not be cut, no more mail processing equipment and mail boxes will be removed, no mail processing facilities will be closed and overtime will be reinstated.
But Troop told Cardinal & Pine that he does not trust DeJoy to make good on his promises.
“We need to watch what DeJoy does, not what he says,” Troop said. “He’s trying to kick the can down the road and dismantle the postal service after the election. We’re trying to save it, not buy time.”
The growing distrust in the postal service’s new leadership is also undermining trust in democracy, Troop said.
“Saving the postal service is an important issue because that’s how Trump is going to steal the election if it’s not funded,” Troop said. “That’s exactly what he’s doing. His constituents are laughing about it but the joke’s on them because a lot of them are rural.”
‘One of our oldest and most treasured institutions’
Greensboro wasn’t the only NC site for demonstrators protesting DeJoy’s moves this week.
Spurred by the removal of seven mail sorting machines from a post office facility near Charlotte Douglas International Airport, a crowd of protesters reportedly gathered in Charlotte Tuesday.
The Charlotte Observer reported that US Rep. Alma Adams, a Charlotte Democrat who on Aug. 8 became the first member of Congress to call for DeJoy’s resignation, led the protest.
Wearing a shirt that said “U.S. Mail Not for Sale,” Adams addressed a gathering that included representatives from the NAACP and the Charlotte chapter of the American Postal Workers Union, WBTV reported.
“There is a deliberate attempt to sabotage this election,” Adams told the crowd, according to The Charlotte Observer. “Why in the hell aren’t we working overtime?”
“The U.S. Postal Service is one of our oldest and most treasured institutions,” Adams added. “It ties together our communities.”
Post office employee Miriam Bell told The Observer that workers said they didn’t know why the Charlotte machines were removed.
Requests to Vote-By-Mail Flowing In
The Charlotte and Greensboro protests came with North Carolinians expected to vote by mail in record numbers in 2020, amid rising concerns about whether the postal service will succeed in getting ballots to and from voters.
Indeed, 40% of the state’s voters, ten times the usual number, could end up casting mail-in ballots in November, state election officials told The Charlotte Observer.
North Carolina allows voters to request ballots by mail for any reason, and ballots will begin going out in early September. Voters will be able to mail back their filled-out ballots until Oct. 27 or can submit their filled-out ballots in person to their county boards, according to the non-profit group Democracy NC. You can also see if your ballot was received by entering your information into a portal maintained by the NC State Board of Elections.
On Tuesday, Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College in Salisbury, wrote on Twitter that current requests for mail-in ballots have already exceeded the entirety of requests made during the 2016 presidential election
Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic opponent in November’s election, has said he plans to fight back on the attacks on the post office. Biden campaign officials told The Washington Post the campaign is planning a massive expenditure to educate voters about how they can vote by mail.
The Washington Post reported that North Carolina is among 20 states planning to file lawsuits against postal service changes that could delay the delivery and pick-up of ballots.
DeJoy is scheduled to testify before a US Senate committee Friday and a House of Representatives panel on Monday.