HARLEM — A dozen senior citizens, including State Sen. Bill Perkins and Assemblyman Keith Wright, marched on the Manhattanville Post Office on 125th Street to protest of their lack of dedicated senior windows and benches to sit on.
“What do we want? A senior window,” and "When do we want it open? All day long," the grey brigade shouted as they marched in circles in the post office while an employee threatened to have anyone taking pictures arrested.
The conflict stems from a meeting between the Community Board 9’s senior committee and the Post Office last Spring, according to then-board chair Rev. Georgette Morgan-Thomas.
“They said they would have a designated window open for seniors and disabled at 9 a.m. and they would look into just for seniors and look into having chairs for people to sit in while they wait,” she said.
However, several people have complained that the window is not open until noon and benches have never been installed. When the community board asked the Post Office to have a follow up meeting last month, they refused.
Morgan-Thomas began planning the protest after that call. Because of Tuesday's freezing temperatures, she thought of postponing but the seniors refused.
"They said, 'Reverend, the Post Office says they deliver in the cold, rain, and sleet so we are going to protest in the cold, rain, or sleet," she said.
The branch manager at the post office referred all questions to their media department but could not immediately provide a phone number. An email to the USPS’ senior manager of public relations was not immediately responded to Tuesday.
Marching inside the branch ended after police officers from the 26th Precinct arrived. Outside, elected officials said they would be back to demand respect.
"We might be a little small in number but we are loud in spirit," said Wright. "A lot of our seniors don't use social media, they depend on our post office. We are just asking for a dedicated window and we are always asking for better service and we are always asking for more respect."
Online, the branch has a 1.4 out of 5 from 45 Yelp reviewers.
The most recent review stated, “This post office is horrible. They are rude, incompetent, cruel, hostile…”
While the focus of the protest was senior service, people from Harlem’s business community joined in on the action.
“They've cost me quite a bit of money,” said Harriet Rosebud who owns a hat-making business and ships packages out of the post office regularly. “There’s a general mood in that post office — and I think it stems from the branch manager — of just apathy, as if they are untouchable."
Several packages arrive late and customers demand refunds. She would prefer to use FedEx of UPS, and does for larger orders, but the Post Office is more affordable for small items like her hats, she said.