Chicago FOP president leads rally against city worker vaccine mandate as City Council meets

Ordinance to repeal Chicago vaccine mandate sent to Rules Committee

Craig Wall Image
Monday, October 25, 2021
Chicago FOP president leads City Hall rally to oppose vaccine mandate
Mayor Lori Lightfoot's Chicago vaccine mandate for city workers was the focus of a rally at City Hall led by FOP president John Catanzara Monday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The fight over Chicago's vaccine mandate for city workers played out on two battlefields Monday: in court and at city hall.

The Fraternal Order of Police rallied with supporters as an ordinance was introduced at city council to nullify the mandate.

Getting the ordinance passed and the mandate repealed will be an uphill battle. After it was introduced Monday, the proposal was immediately sent to the Rules Committee, where things sometimes stall. But supporters made their case loud and clear.

Dozens of people supporting the battle against the mayor's vaccine reporting mandate rallied at City Hall with the Fraternal Order of Police, which has championed the cause from the beginning.

At the rally, the FOP president called for officers to flood Chicago Police Headquarters Tuesday morning and defy the vaccine reporting mandate.

"We're going to see just how many officers we're really talking about the city can literally lose in a blink of an eye if this mandate doesn't change sooner rather than later," FOP President John Catanzara Jr. said.

Late Monday, a judge denied a city motion to extend the temporary restraining order that prevented the FOP president from using social media to discourage his members from reporting their vaccine status.

RELATED: Chicago Fire Department sends 4 firefighters home for withholding COVID-19 vaccination statuses

"We have to fight for our freedoms because obviously our politicians are not," supporter Sharon Sikora said.

A small contingent of counter-protesters outside also made their case that serving and protecting also means getting vaccinated.

"I think it's absurd for the FOP to think they have the right to infect others," counter protester Andy Thayer said.

RELATED: Chicago fire department employees join COVID vaccine mandate pushback

Inside council chambers, Alderwoman Silvana Tabares huddled with Alderman Ray Lopez as her ordinance to repeal the mayor's mandate was introduced. The proposal was quickly sent to committee, and so, there was no debate.

"I'm not surprised at all," Tabares said. "I mean, I expected the mayor to silence the debate on the ordinance, and that's wrong, because we are in a public safety crisis, and she's making it worse without aldermen having a say on the mandate."

"This body is a democracy, to have our voices heard. And right now, this administration doesn't want anybody to have a voice and they don't want anybody to be heard," said Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th Ward.

But the chair of the committee, which could ultimately consider the ordinance, said she supports union bargaining rights, but not this ordinance.

"It brings everything back to the city council so we would be basically be judge, jury and executioner. I don't want that responsibility," Ald. Sue Sadlowski-Garza, 10th Ward.

Tabares has garnered 16 votes, but would ultimately need 34 to make the ordinance veto-proof.

The mayor did not comment on the ordinance Monday, but previously has vowed to do everything possible to defeat it. The ordinance's sponsor was undeterred.

"You know, I'm going to keep working, I'm going to keep working with my city council colleagues," Tabares said. "This is not over."

Other alderman raising concerns about the constitutionality of the ordinance.

"I've had conversations with other attorneys not within the city of Chicago that are somewhat concerned with it being an overreach on legislative powers," said 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin, who also serves as chairman of the Black Caucus.

The FOP president came with a warning for alderman.

"But I'm telling you, we're taking a report card and anybody who does not raise their hand you will be challenged in 2023 we are coming for everyone off your damn seats," Catanzara said.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown reiterated Monday that the vaccine mandate is about protecting officers' health.

"We're staying focused on saving the lives of the Chicago police officers," Brown said. "Part of that means following through on the vaccine mandate."

The superintendent saying that as of Monday, there are only 23 officers on no-pay status for refusing to report their vaccination status. The FOP and the city went back to court Monday afternoon in their fight over the mandate.