Sunday, June 20, 2010

Anti census-taker violence

This is the scary season for the nation's census takers.

Since they began making follow-up house calls in early May, census takers have encountered verbal abuse and flashes of violence. They have been shot at with pellet guns and hit by baseball bats. They have been confronted with pickaxes, crossbows and hammers.

So far, the Census Bureau has tallied 379 incidents involving assaults or threats on the nation's 635,000 census workers, more than double the 181 recorded during the 2000 census. Weapons were used or threatened in a third of the cases.

Now, with just three weeks to go in the count's door-knocking phase, the remaining households are the toughest.

While most homeowners have received census takers graciously, some say they have been surprised at the degree of anger exhibited by Americans who consider them the embodiment of intrusive government.

. . . In some situations, the job turned unexpectedly dangerous, as for the Baltimore crew leader who was fatally shot seven times while sitting in his car.

Other workers were beset by mean-tempered animals. Wendy Soto, who was knocking on doors in California, still can't move two fingers after being attacked by a pit bull that pushed open a security door.

For all the attempts to spin these incidents as right wing anti government violence, it appears that the majority of attacks upon census workers are typical examples of urban street crime in areas that voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

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