My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘guns’

Ed O’Keefe: 113 attacks against Census Bureau employees

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

From Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post:

More than 113 census takers have been the victims of assaults or attacks since April 1, the U.S. Census Bureau said late Wednesday.

In response to inquiries by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Census Director Robert Groves said the bureau’s temporary workers knocking on doors to collect information have faced 29 threats involving a gun, four robberies and three instances of being held against their will or carjacked. Six workers died in car accidents and one was killed while off duty.

The Census Bureau hired about 635,000 people to follow up with people who did not return questionnaires by the end of April. The process is more than half completed, and is scheduled to continue into July.

Bureau officials did not return requests for comment Wednesday night and did not provide comparable figures from the 2000 Census. Twenty-one census workers died on the job between 1998 and 2009, according to agency figures.

Local news reports have revealed some of the incidents, including a census worker carjacked by a 14-year old and a California incident thatresulted in the death of a woman.

Aides said Maloney requested the information to determine whether news reports were accurately reflecting a trend or merely focusing on a few incidents.

“These acts of violence against census enumerators are tragic, especially when you consider these temporary workers were only trying to do their job making sure their neighbors are accurately and fairly counted in the Decennial Census,” Maloney said.

The attacks come as the agency announced stricter hiring rules on Wednesday after a registered sex offender using an alias got a job as a census taker.

A Yuba City, CA woman was shot and killed after a Census visit

Friday, May 21st, 2010

The story is tragic and bizarre — after residents pointed a gun at a Census employee, attracting police to the area, a woman refused officers’ demands to lay down a shotgun she was carrying and was shot. It’s sad that an irrational fear of Census takers seems to have fueled gun threats yet again, and it’s even sadder that it had to result in the loss of a life this time. From Appeal-Democrat.com:

Woman shot, killed by Yuba City police

May 21, 2010 11:18:00 AM

A 67-year-old Yuba City woman was shot and killed by officers when she pointed a shotgun at them and refused to put it down, according to Yuba City police.

Victoria Helen Roger-Vasselin was pronounced dead late Thursday at her home at 764 Mariner Loop in an affluent neighborhood on the city’s far south side.
Roger-Vasselin was the sister of the late Thomas E. Mathews, a Yuba County judge and district attorney.

“They shot her dead,” Roger-Vasselin’s distraught son said outside the house Friday morning.

“I think she was just startled” by late visits to her home, he said.

Before he could give his full name, a relative or family friend took him by the arm and led him inside, shutting the door.
Officers went to the Mariner Loop home after receiving a call at 9:04 p.m. about weapons being brandished.

A U.S. Census worker “had been confronted by residents who pointed a firearm at the worker and said they would not answer any questions and closed the door,” said police spokeswoman Shawna Pavey.

When two male officers arrived, 51-year-old Lionel Patterson answered the door, armed with a handgun, police said.

“As officers were dealing with the male, a female approached the door with a shotgun and ignored officers’ orders to release the weapon. As the female advanced on officers, she continued to point the shotgun at officers in a threatening manner and the two officers fired their service weapons, hitting the female,” police said.

Both officers fired their guns, said Pavey, adding she didn’t believe Roger-Vasselin or Patterson fired.

Both officers were uniformed and clearly identifiable as police, Pavey said.

Pavey said toxicology testing after an autopsy Friday morning will determine if alcohol or drugs were factors in the incident.

The officers have been placed on routine administrative leave while the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office investigates the incident.

A neighbor, Bob Dhaliwal, said he was in bed when heard people, including one woman, shouting and yelling, followed by five or six shots. When he came outside, officers with guns drawn had the male suspect on the ground, then took him away in a patrol car, he said.

“All I saw was him being arrested. I assumed he shot somebody,” Dhaliwal said.

Patterson lives at the same address. Pavey and neighbors said it wasn’t clear what the relationship was between him and Roger-Vasselin.

Dhaliwal and other neighbors said they didn’t know Roger-Vasselin well.

“She kept to herself,” Dhaliwal said.

One neighbor, who declined to give her name, described Roger-Vasselin “pleasant but reserved,” almost reclusive.

“She was much more social when she moved first moved in. The economy was better then,” the neighbor said.

Neighbors said they had also received nighttime visits from a female census worker.

Roger-Vasselin owned the house for about three years but rented it for about six months while she worked in Hawaii, returning to Yuba City six to nine months ago, the neighbor said.

When her mother, Lillian Mathews-Crumrine, died in 1998, Roger-Vasselin lived in Kauai, Hawaii.

When the former judge, Thomas E. Mathews, died In 2005, Roger-Vasselin was living in San Francisco. Then 63 and a regional membership executive at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, she was one four employees involved in an age- discrimination lawsuit against the Marriott Corporation.

Shots fired at Census Bureau employee

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Thanks to Statesman.com for the following story. Sadly, MyTwoCensus has long predicted that anti-federal government sentiment would result in crazy individuals shooting Census Bureau employees simply trying to do their jobs. This is partially because rabble-rousers like CNN and talk radio’s Eric Erickson told people that he would shoot any census worker who tried to come to his door. I called for Mr. Erickson to be fired months ago, but perhaps it won’t actually happen until someone dies. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in Saturday’s incident:

Leander attorney accused of shooting at Census worker

By Miguel Liscano | Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 12:46 PM

barnes.jpg

Williamson County sheriff’s officials have charged a Leander attorney with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after they say she fired five shots at a U.S. Census Bureau worker on Saturday, court records show.

Carolyn M. Barnes, 53, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the felony. She was being held in the Williamson County Jail this afternoon with bail set at $50,000.

According to the affidavit, the Census Bureau employee told officials that Barnes pointed a handgun at her when she showed up at Barnes’s home, in the 400 block of Indian Trail in Leander, to collect information.

As the woman tried to get away, Barnes fired the weapon, the document says. It is unclear if she was injured.

Records show Barnes has not hired an attorney. The voice mailbox at her home and law office said they were full.

Barnes was previously arrested Jan. 8 in Austin after officials said she struck a Travis County deputy at the Sweatt Travis County Courthouse.

She was charged with assaulting a public servant, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years behind bars. Those charges are still pending, court records show.

According to an arrest affidavit, when Barnes entered the courthouse at 1000 Guadalupe St. and went through a security screening, deputies found a small knife.

They asked her to return the knife to her car, but she refused, the affidavit said. The document said she struck the officer after she took out her cell phone and the deputy asked her to take the call outside.

CNN Conservative Commentator To Whip Out His Shotgun On Enumerators?

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

H/t to Media Matters for America:

Huffington Post: “Erickson Shotgun-Census Remark: Commerce Dept. Pushes Back”

April 05, 2010 6:10 pm ET by Media Matters Staff

From an April 5 article by Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein:

The Commerce Department is pushing back against census critics, subtly reminding conservative blogger and CNN contributor Erick Erickson that the workers whom he’s threatened to pull a shotgun on are simply doing required, temporary and important work.

In a statement provided to the Huffington Post, Nicholas Kimball, a spokesman for the Commerce Department — which oversees the 2010 census counting — said that precautions are being made to “protect the safety of both census workers and the public.”

Going through the logistics of the process, Kimball noted that the census workers dispatched to help collect raw data (in the form of a ten-point questionnaire) are usually fellow locals. Taking a small dig at Erickson, without naming names, he added:

So, that means someone knocking on a door in, for example, Macon, Georgia, is likely to be from that community or neighborhood. They’re just someone looking for a little extra work during these difficult economic times – and looking to help fulfill the mission of our Founding Fathers.

Fear and Loathing in Pahrump Valley: Enumerators face off against people with guns and vicious dogs.

Monday, April 20th, 2009

censusbag2-lo

As hundreds of thousands of Census Bureau employees are now going door to door to verify the addresses of more than 300 million Americans, few people realize the physical risks that these field workers face. MyTwoCensus has called upon the Census Bureau to release statistics that detail how many Census Bureau employees have been injured/killed while on the job thus far in 2010 as well as during he 2000 headcount. While employees of the Postal Service ostensibly also face similar problems to Census Bureau field workers on a daily basis, 2010 Census employees lack the significant training and field experience necessary to deal with hostile individuals/animals/situations.

Also, as MyTwoCensus has previously reported, since Census Bureau employees lack uniforms and formal photo ID badges, they can be more easily targeted by individuals who suspect that someone is trespassing on their property. The Pahrump Valley Times, which serves Nye County in Nevada, reports:

Tony Longo, local Census Bureau supervisor, said crews don’t normally have to knock on doors to verify addresses unless they have a question over additional living quarters on the property.

Longo said a couple of census workers reported dog bites. There was a scary incident at one residence, he said.

“One group was standing in the street at a house on an acre lot and it was tree-lined. He was just trying to verify if there was another unit in the back and the lady sprung out of the trees with a .45 and then her son came behind her with a shotgun,” Longo said. “They were really cool once he explained who he was.”