- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is trying to silence the leader of the city’s largest police union over the coronavirus vaccine mandate requiring city employees to be vaccinated or risk being fired.

A judge on Monday granted the Democratic mayor’s request for a temporary injunction against John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #7, requiring that he not make public comments encouraging officers to defy the vaccine mandate.

“What we’ve seen from the Fraternal Order of Police, in particular leadership, is a lot of misinformation, a lot of half-truths, and, frankly, flat out lies in order to induce an insurrection. And we’re not having that,” Ms. Lightfoot said during a news conference.

The mayor filed the complaint after Mr. Cantanzara uploaded a video last Thursday — one day before the mandate went into effect — telling officers to refuse any order to upload information about their vaccination status into a government database.

In the video, Mr. Cantanzara said he does “not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history and change the terms of employment so to speak on the fly.”

He predicted about 50% of the Chicago Police Department’s officers would skirt the mandate and said “that is not because of the FOP — that is 100% because of the mayor’s unwillingness to budge from her hard line.”

In the complaint, the mayor accused the union leader of encouraging an unlawful strike or work stoppage, but he rebutted the claims in another video and called the complaint a “silly motion.”

The vaccine mandate went into effect at midnight Friday and those officers who do not comply may face an unpaid suspension or termination. They can also opt to take tests twice a week, on their own dime and their own time, but only until Dec. 31.

City statistics as of Monday show 8,227 of CPD’s 12,770 police employees have reported their vaccination status, which is 64%.

Ms. Lightfoot said during the Monday brief that the union’s pushback on the mandate threatens the “legitimacy of local policing.”
Officers who refuse to fall in line should leave CPD, she said.

“We’re not having that,” Ms. Lightfoot said. “If that’s the police department they want to be in, they should walk to another police department.”

The Washington Times sent requests for comment on Tuesday to Ms. Lightfoot, the Chicago Police Department and the FOP.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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