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Did Postal Service go ‘too far’ in halting mail delivery after attack on carrier?

08/08/2013  Chicago State Farm Insurance agent Joe Wilsposes for photograph outside his office Logan Square Chicago Thursday August 8

08/08/2013 Chicago State Farm Insurance agent Joe Wilson poses for a photograph outside his office in Logan Square in Chicago on Thursday, August 8, 2013. Recently the U.S. Postal Service has discontinued mail service to his business and many others in the area due to a mail carrier being attacked. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 10, 2013 6:29AM



Snow, rain, heat and the gloom of night can’t stop mail carriers from completing their routes — but Chicago crime can.

A beating of a postal carrier last week brought mail delivery to a halt in the 3200 block of West North Avenue in the Logan Square neighborhood.

The unusual mail stoppage, which is angering business owners on the block, is also affecting the Chicago office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) at 3210 W. North, a spokesman confirmed.

The delivery shutdown stems from an Aug. 2 attack on a 35-year-old female postal carrier.

After she used pepper spray on a threatening dog, the animal’s owners allegedly pushed her to the ground and beat her up, police said. Laurentina Espadas, 30, of the 3200 block of West North Avenue, was charged with misdemeanor battery. The mail carrier was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

The attack and at least one earlier incident prompted the U.S. Postal Service to stop mail delivery on the block on Aug. 3, said Mark Reynolds, a spokesman for the postal service in Chicago.

“It is relatively rare. It is an extreme measure. We obviously want to deliver the mail every day,” he said. “The safety of our carriers is paramount.”

A funeral home and an insurance office are among the businesses affected by the shutdown.

Bill Anderson, whose family founded Anderson-Morgan Funeral Home at 3234 W. North, said he realized the business wasn’t getting any mail.

He said he spoke to a supervisor at the post office at Fullerton and California and was told he would have to pick up the funeral home’s mail at the post office until further notice.

“If someone assaulted a bus driver, they would not take all the bus drivers off the street. This was an isolated incident. We are being held hostage,” said Anderson, who sold the funeral home but still works there part-time.

Joe Wilson, a State Farm Insurance agent at 3246 W. North, said he must take at least 20 minutes out of his day to drive to the post office to pick up his mail now.

“That’s another thing on my plate,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he’s miffed he never received notification from the postal service about the stoppage.

“They went a little bit too far to penalize the entire community for an isolated event,” Wilson said, stressing that he sympathizes with the postal carrier, whom he called “excellent.”

Gerard Morgan, the new owner of the funeral home, said he’s puzzled by the postal service’s move.

“I took the business over on the first of May, and I have not had any problems here,” he said. “I don’t understand why they would have to stop delivering the mail. This is really inconvenient.”

But Reynolds said the Aug. 2 attack wasn’t the only problem that led to the mail stoppage. A day earlier, the mail carrier and a route inspector were walking together when a man got angry because he thought the inspector was looking at his girlfriend. He said the man then followed the supervisor, flashing gang signs at him, Reynolds said.

“This is not just an isolated incident,” he said. “There is a recent history of problems here.”

Reynolds said postal officials haven’t decided how long the stoppage will last. They’ve notified the offices of Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) and Gutierrez, he said.

A spokesman for Gutierrez said he couldn’t comment except to confirm the congressman’s office on North Avenue wasn’t receiving any mail.

Email: fmain@suntimes.com



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