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On Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot accused members of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) of trying to “induce an insurrection” for protesting the vaccine mandate that went into effect last Friday.
“The city’s vaccine mandate will place officers who do not submit proof of vaccination by the deadline on a ‘no pay’ status. The police union is preparing a lawsuit against the city of Chicago,” The Washington Examiner reported on October 13.
Last week, Chicago FOP President John Catanzara issued a video in which he stated, “Do not fill out the portal information. … I’ve made my status very clear as far as the vaccine, but I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody — let alone that information about your medical history.” He continued, “I can guarantee you that no-pay status will not last more than 30 days. There’s no way they’re going to be able to sustain a police department workforce at 50% capacity or less for more than seven days without something budging.”
A reporter asked Lightfoot on Monday, “The big question is why legal action, but can I also put it this way, there is a different tone from CPS [Chicago Public Schools], from Pedro Martinez; he was asked what’s going to happen to those who don’t have their vaccines, and he said the other day, ‘We’re going to work with them. We’re going to talk to them. We’re going to make sure, try to understand what’s going on.’ So why a different tone for CPS than the police?”
“Well, I don’t think there is a different tone for one versus the other,” Lightfoot answered. “CEO Martinez has indicated that, and again, in agreement with the union, so that is one circumstantial difference, that every adult in the system has to be vaccinated. And that agreement was reached months ago and they’ve been working very hard to execute on that agreement reached with all the collective bargaining agencies that employ folks at CPS. So it’s a very different set of circumstances and I think he believes it’s going to be very small group that remains either unvaccinated or not signing up. And so he understands though that accountability is important, as do we.”
“You asked the question of why the lawsuit,” she continued. “Because we believe that the FOP leadership is trying to foment an illegal work stoppage, a strike. Pure and simple. We’ve laid that out in the materials. And we’re not having that. The contract is clear and it’s been known for a long time, the police unions are not authorized to strike. It’s in their collective bargaining agreement. It’s a matter of state law.”
“What we’ve seen from the Fraternal Order Police, and particularly the leadership, is a lot of misinformation, a lot of half-truths, and frankly flat-out lies, in order to induce an insurrection,” she charged. “And we’re not having that. So we want to make it very, very clear that the law’s on our side. We feel very confident about it and what he said even after, what I heard that he said even after the lawsuit was filed and we notified them, is urging members of the department to ignore their chain of command.”
“And let me be very clear about this: John Catanzara has destroyed his police career,” she threatened. “Destroyed it. He’s not fit and he’s never going to go back to the department in any kind of active position. I don’t want him to lead these young officers astray and have them destroy their careers like he’s destroyed his. If you ignore a directive of your supervisor or worse, a direct order that’s lawfully given, you’re going to destroy your career. That is going to follow you forever. Over what? Going to a website. Clicking yes or no. And if no, saying that you’re going to sign up for testing? Really? That’s worth it? I don’t think it is.”
“And I don’t think people are going to follow him over that cliff,” she predicted, adding:
But we’re going to make sure that he and the leadership of the FOP get a very clear message: we are not allowing them to jeopardize the public safety of our city, our residents, by making it seem as if he is in charge of the Chicago Police Department and he alone can determine staffing and whether or not officers come to work. The other thing that has to be clear: Officers swear an oath to abide by the U.S. Constitution, the state constitution and the laws of this city. That is a sacred oath. That separates them from civilian employees everywhere. It’s a sacred oath and we expect them to abide by it.
We can’t expect them and residents that hold them with any degree of legitimacy if those who are sworn to uphold the law, act as if they’re above the law. We’re not going to tolerate that. That’s not acceptable and I think what we’re going to see is that a lot of officers are going to abide by the mandate and fill out their information. Very simple, straight forward, on the portal.
— Forbes (@Forbes) October 18, 2021