A spate of incidents involving homeless people attacking state groundskeepers in California’s capital has prompted the union representing those employees demand pepper spray for self-defense.
The request, filed in a Wednesday morning grievance by the International Union of Operating Engineers, detailed multiple instances in which homeless people reportedly attacked groundskeepers in the past few months, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Earlier this month, a homeless person punched and scratched a worker and attacked another while they were clearing the person’s belongings near a war memorial before an event in Capitol Park, KCRA-TV reported.
In August, a homeless man, who was previously reported to have harassed workers, punched a worker in the face while he was using a leaf blower outside the Secretary of State building, according to the station.
Both homeless people were arrested, according to union representative Brandy Johnson. There have been at least two other attacks, but the details have not been released, she said.
Lynda Gledhill, a Government Operations Agency spokeswoman, told The Bee that “California Highway Patrol, which oversees security at state buildings, including the State Capitol, is enhancing patrol efforts to ensure the safety and security of staff and members of the public.”
Johnson said her union has been warning the Department of General Services – the groundskeepers’ employer – for months that attacks would escalate after workers were ordered to remove homeless people’s belongings from state property in the capital.
Steve Crouch, the union’s director of public employees, told The Bee that arbitration over the grievance is scheduled for Nov. 20.