Federal Government Delayed Mailing ‘Stop Killing Black People’ Masks

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jun 08, 2020

The federal government halted the shipment of 500 cloth masks on June 3 that were intended to protect protestors across the nation against COVID-19 infections as they marched against police killings. The masks were only released two days after the story broke, HuffPost reported on June 5. 

Black Lives Matter organizers shipped four boxes of masks that read “Stop Killing Black People” and “Defund Police” from Oakland to Washington, St. Louis, New York City and Minneapolis for next day delivery. When the boxes were never received, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) told organizers the packages had been “Seized by Law Enforcement,” wrote HuffPost. 

“These packages were originally set aside for further investigation because there were indications that they contained non-mailable matter,” the U.S. Postal Inspection Service told HuffPost on June 5. “Once Postal Inspectors confirmed the contents of the packages were in fact mailable, they were immediately placed back in the mail stream to be delivered at their intended destinations without further delay.”

The masks did finally reach their intended locations, but the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) is not buying USPS’s excuse for the hold up. “Cloth masks are mailable items. And they admit clearly that they received faulty intelligence about what was in the packages,” said M4BL spokesperson Chelsea Fuller. “So the question remains: which agency moved to use the Postal Service as a domestic surveillance tool?”

Fuller is not alone in her questioning, as retired postmaster Mark Jamison told HuffPost that putting packages on hold in this way reeks of politics. “This isn’t by happenstance. That means that the Justice Department is probably surveilling some of these people under some program,” said Jamison. “I’m old enough to remember [Richard] Nixon doing this kind of stuff.”