Since they began making house calls early in May, census takers have encountered vitriol, menace, and violence, the Washington Post reports. They have been shot at with pellet guns and hit by baseball bats. They have been confronted with pickaxes, crossbows, and hammers. They’ve had power lawn mowers pushed menacingly toward them, and patio tables thrown their way.
The Census Bureau has tallied 379 incidents involving assaults or threats on its 635,000 workers, more than double the 181 recorded during the 2000 census. Weapons were used or threatened in a third of the cases. With just three weeks to go in the door-knocking phase of the count, the number of census takers has dwindled, and 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 from Americans who consider them the embodiment of intrusive government.