Update, Friday, November 11, 12:20 p.m.: This story has been updated to include a new statement from the USPS.
The US Postal Service is investigating Thursday after a report that a postal worker in Cambridge hurled racist insults at a Hispanic man and declared, “This is Trump land.”
Yarden Katz, a fellow at the Harvard Medical School, says he was at a Shell station between Harvard Square and East Cambridge when he witnessed the USPS employee accost the man and invoke the Republican president-elect.
“Go back to your country,” Katz says the postal worker, a white man with a beard, said. “This is Trump land. You ain’t getting your check no more.”
In an interview, Katz says he arrived as an argument was underway between the two at around 1 p.m. yesterday. He wrote down the man’s remarks and memorized the serial number on the employee’s USPS van, he says, and he covertly snapped pictures of the scene from his car. Then he filed a report and posted about it on Twitter, where it has since been retweeted more than 2,000 times.
— Yarden Katz (@yardenkatz) November 9, 2016
“It was so brazen and it was so overt. It was broad daylight at one o’clock in the afternoon,” he tells Boston. “This guy was not subtle about it. It wasn’t hush-hush. It was very overt and this guy seemed very empowered and comfortable doing it.”
He says he didn’t witness any violence and did not file a police report.
The USPS says the customer service manager for the Cambridge Post Office is investigating.
“Locally we did receive a copy of this tweet earlier today,” says Stephen Doherty, a USPS spokesman, in an email. “Appropriate action will be taken based on the outcome of that investigation. The Postal Service does not tolerate or condone behavior of the type described in this tweet.”
Katz says he hasn’t heard from the post office yet. In the meantime, he says he can’t believe something like this could happen in the city.
“Obviously this is horrible and racist, and I was shocked precisely because of where it happened,” he says. “We’re in Cambridge, which people call, affectionately, the People’s Republic of Cambridge. It’s supposedly a progressive place.”
Update: The US Postal Service on Friday released an updated, more robust statement, calling the alleged incident “unacceptable” and saying it could lead to the postal worker’s “removal.”
The actions described are unacceptable employee behavior. The Postal Service neither condones nor tolerates this type of alleged behavior by any employee. The Postal Service is currently investigating the complaint and depending on the results of this investigation, appropriate corrective action will be taken consistent with the provisions of the applicable contractual agreement.
The U.S. Postal Service expects all of our employees to treat each other, our customers, and the public at large with dignity and respect. We specifically prohibit discrimination and harassment in any form based on religion, race, creed, color, or national origin. Our employees take these expectations to heart, and take great pride in their work delivering for the American public. Any employee who is found to have taken actions that violate our policy and federal anti-discrimination laws will be subject to corrective action up to and including removal from the Postal Service.
Maureen Marion, a spokeswoman for the region’s post offices, says the investigation will continue on Monday. Post offices are closed today for Veterans Day.
She can’t speak to the status of the investigation at this time. But she says the postal van serial number provided by Yarden Katz, the man who alerted USPS to the alleged incident, provided a valuable lead.
“That information was very helpful to us,” she says.
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