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Union calls for Capitol groundskeepers to be armed with pepper spray after attacks by homeless

There have been three attacks on groundskeepers within the last month, according to the union that represents them.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A local union is demanding that their members be trained and armed with pepper spray because of recent attacks at the hands of homeless individuals around the California Capitol.

These workers maintain the grounds of the Capitol and other state buildings. They have reported being punched, scratched, and having their hair pulled during encounters with the homeless who sleep in public places, according to the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 39.

“Because as they’re using machinery, they don’t necessarily always hear the assault coming or the verbiage coming from the homeless until it’s too late,” said Brandy Johnson, a union representative.

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The union first became concerned about workers safety after learning groundskeepers were being asked to clean up human waste, drug paraphernalia, and medical supplies left by the homeless, Johnson said.

The California Government Operations Agency issued a joint statement on the issue.

"Any violent attacks against visitors or staff that work around the Capitol are unacceptable and taken very seriously,” state officials wrote in a statement. “Everyone has a right to a safe and secure working environment.

The California Highway Patrol, which handles security at all state buildings, will enhance patrol efforts to ensure safety and security in the area. The state is also asking the City and County of Sacramento to provide more homeless resources in the area.

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