By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California state groundskeepers are being attacked by transients in downtown Sacramento, according to the groundskeepers’ union.

The International Union of Operating Engineers reports, of the 20-person downtown groundskeeper staff, five employees have been assaulted in the past three months, all by homeless assailants.

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“We’re finding ourselves in new territory,” Local 39 Union spokesperson Brandy Johnson said.

One state groundskeeper was punched in the face by a homeless person outside the Secretary of State’s office.

“He was blowing and minding his own business,” Johnson said.

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Another groundskeeper was assaulted in the capitol park as he cleaned up the war memorial, moving a homeless person’s property in the process.

“[The transient] scratched him in the face, punched him, pulled his hair,” Johnson said.

In that case, the groundskeeper received medical treatment at a hospital and the suspect was arrested by the CHP.

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Union representatives are now asking the groundskeeper’s Department of General Services for all incident reports related to the assaults, for extra security, and the opportunity for the groundskeepers to carry pepper spray.

“Right now we’re talking about being punched in the face, you don’t know if that could escalate, into a more dangerous situation,” Johnson said.

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For people who frequent the Capitol Park, protecting the peace they seek there is important.

“I don’t see why they shouldn’t carry some self-defense,” Myra Andaya said. “I don’t see that being an issue whatsoever.”

“Like you do in anyone’s job, you want to feel safe, going to work,” Lili Burnie said

Confrontations with downtown Sacramento’s homeless on state property, now has California state groundskeepers growing concerned.

“It really has become an agitated situation,” Johnson said.

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The groundskeeper attacked while working in the area around the war memorial is still recovering. He has not been back to work since the attack.