John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, spoke out on Friday to say that Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate is “absolutely wrong” as he urged his fellow officers not to comply with it.
This mandate, which went into effect today, forces all cops to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested for it twice weekly. All officers were forced to disclose their vaccination status by the end of the workday.
Catanzara told Fox News that while around half of his officers have been vaccinated, even those who have gotten the shot agree that a mandate is wrong. He then claimed that the mandate was Lightfoot’s decision and not something the public had called for.
“Everything from this mayor is a dictatorship,” he said. “She just decided she was going to do it and push it on the entire city workforce across the board.”
Catanzara went on to say that police officers aren’t the only ones fighting back against this vaccine mandate, as first responders, firefighters, and labor unions are all opposed to it as well.
“Everybody across the board is up in arms about this mandate,” he explained. “We had a meeting the other night, and our lodge had never been more filled with members. They were willing to go into a no-pay status at midnight tonight and get sent home if that’s what was going to happen.”
Lightfoot has already threatened “consequences” for those who refuse to comply with her mandate. Catanzara is afraid that officers will be threatened with suspension and termination, even though there is a low number of incoming officers to fill empty positions.
“The reality is we have a profession nobody else wants to do right now,” he said. “They cannot get anybody to go into this police academy. Yet here she is, vilifying the police yet again.”
CNN reported that Lightfoot fired back on Friday by claiming that Catanzara is trying to “induce an insurrection” by telling officers to ignore her deadline to report vaccine status, adding that he is “encouraging a work stoppage or strike.”
The union then stood by Catanzara, saying that he “has never engaged in, supported, or encouraged a work stoppage.” Earlier this week, Catanzara framed this issue as an employment dispute.
“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 and change the terms of employment, so to speak on the fly,” he said.