- Even an innocuous trip to the Post Office can you get
you into trouble these days.
- Daniel Muller, is the co-coordinator of Voices in the
Wilderness, a group dedicated to nonviolence and a leading opponent of
U.S. sanctions against Iraq.
- On November 9, Muller and his colleague Andrew Mandell
went to pick up stamps at the Chicago post office they regularly visit.
They were paying with cash.
- "We needed 4,000 stamps for a mailing we were doing,
and I asked for ones not with the American flag on them."
- The woman asked if Statute of Liberty stamps were OK.
- "Yes, we love liberty," said Andrew Mandell.
- "She asked us to step aside from the counter, and
she went to the back, out of view," recalls Muller. "I knew something
was up because this was a bit out of the ordinary. And Andrew said, 'She's
calling the cops,' but I didn't believe him.
- "No one said anything to us for about twenty minutes,
and then two cops came in and asked for our IDs. They asked if we had any
outstanding warrants. They ran a check on us. They asked us why we had
asked for stamps without American flags on them. I said we're very rooted
in nonviolent activities, and we would rather have the Statue of Liberty
than the American flag."
- The Post Office told Muller and Mandell that they would
have to come back the next morning for stamps.
- Mandell got his stamps the next day, but he also was
asked to meet with a federal postal inspector for more than a half-hour.
The postal inspector, says Mandell, asked: "Why are you paying with
cash? Where do you get your money?"
- Afterwards, the group was permitted to send out its mailing.
- "The fact that they did ask for anything but flag
stamps did raise a question for the clerk," says Silvia Carrier, a
public relations officer for the U.S. Postal Inspector in Chicago. Plus,
"They were buying postage with a large amount of cash, and usually
a company will use a meter or a business check. Right now, since September
11, clerks have been told to be cautious, to be looking out for anything