Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago claimed on Monday that those police officers who oppose the vaccine mandate in the Windy City are attempting to "induce an insurrection."
When asked about the police union's refusal to back the city's vaccine mandates, Lightfoot said, "What we've seen from the Fraternal Order of Police, in particularly 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."
"And so we want to make it very, very clear that the law is on our side, we feel very confident about it. And what we said even after, when I heard that he said, even after the lawsuit was filed, we notified them, is urging members of the department to ignore their chain of command," Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot has had an adversarial relationship with the police. In August, officers turned their backs on her when she visited a critically injured officer in the hospital who was ambushed by criminals intent on killing cops.
Lightfoot also backed a plan to send out mental health professionals on some emergency calls instead of police officers.
Lightfoot was asked about the legal action the city has brought against the union. "I guess 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, you know 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 what 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 remarked. "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," Lightfoot said, noting that the Chicago teachers' union is in favor of mandatory vaccinations of all members, and has said so.
"And that agreement was reached months ago. And they've been working very hard to execute on that agreement, or reach with all the collective bargaining agencies that employe folks at CPS.
"So it's a very different set of circumstances. And I think he believes it's gonna be very small group that remains either unvaccinated or not signing up. And so he understands, though, that accountability is important, as do we.
"So you ask the question of why the lawsuit," Lightfoot said, referring to the restraining order that Chicago City Hall filed against the union chief, which was upheld by a judge, "because we believe that the FOP leadership is trying to foment in illegal work stoppage, a strike, pure and simple. We've laid that out in the materials. And we're not just we're not having that the contract is clear."
Lightfoot said that the police union is not authorized to strike, that union head "John Catanzara has destroyed his police career." Lightfoot said that her office is not going to allow the union, and those who oppose vaccine mandates, "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."
Lightfoot said that if officers don't abide by the law, there's no way to expect citizens to uphold those laws "with any degree of legitimacy, if the 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 you're going to see is that a lot of officers are going to abide by the mandate and fill out their information."
Chicago imposed a mandate on their law enforcement officers, and those officers who are against that mandate and do not wish to comply were threatened with termination, or what was termed "separation" from the police department.
An internal notice distributed to officers said that if they don't get the shot, they could face an investigation and penalties, according to local news.
The head of the Fraternal Order of Police, John Catanzara, has been in an ongoing dispute with the city over these requirements. He issued his own statement on Friday after a judge told him to stop commenting publicly about his opposition to vaccine mandates, and to stop encouraging other officers to oppose the mandates as well.
Catanzara said that "Policy starts at the top in this city, and it has proven time and time again that the top of this city's policy needs to change, with that being said," he held up a sign announcing his run for Chicago mayor in 2023.
Officers were required to upload their vaccination status by Friday night, and if they didn't, they would be required to get COVID-19 tested twice per week, at their own cost and time.