Up to 6,500 Chicago cops could be placed on unpaid leave for thumbing their noses at the city’s just-expired deadline to get the COVID vaccine after the police union president warned Mayor Lori Lightfoot of a possible strike, resulting in a judge issuing a temporary restraining order against the cop late Friday night.
The feud between Lightfoot and head of the Chicago Branch of the Fraternal Order of Police John Catanzara escalated when Lightfoot brought the fight to court and filed a Complaint for Injunctive Relief against the police union and Catanzara.
She said in Thursday’s filing that the police union president was ‘engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike’.
The FOP fired back and filed a lawsuit against the city, mayor and police Superintendent David Brown, asking for more intervention on the matter, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The feud between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (left) and head of the Chicago Branch of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) John Catanzara (right) started when Lightfoot announced a mandate requiring the city’s 13,000 cops to disclose their vaccination status by October 15 or face unpaid leave. Catanzara has hinted at a strike in response and said that up to 6,500 Chicago cops could be left without a job
Cook County Circuit Judge Cecilia Horan ruled that Catanzara was potentially causing irreparable harm if he continued making such statements.
She muzzled Catanzara, ordering that he not make another statement, video or tweet discussing Lightfoot’s mandate, which required all civic employees, including 13,000 sworn-in Chicago police officers to report their vaccine status by Friday, October 15, or face unemployment.
Lightfoot brought her feud with the FOP to court and Cook County Circuit Judge Cecilia Horan (pictured) has since issued a temporary restraining order against Catanzara, effective until the next hearing on October 25
Horan sided with Lightfoot, saying Catanzara was advocating for ‘sedition’ and ‘anarchy’ by directing cops to disobey government officials, according to the Tribune.
The restraining order will be in place until October 25, which is when another hearing is set to take place to discuss the dueling lawsuits.
Lightfoot appeared on CNN last night to discuss what the passing deadline means for the Chicago Police Department – the second-largest in the country.
When asked how many officers disclosed their vaccination status as of the deadline, Lightfoot said: ‘Well we don’t have final numbers yet but what we’ve been seeing throughout the week – I think as the reality has sunk in – is that we’re seeing big leaps in compliance.
‘But we won’t have final numbers obviously until after midnight tonight. We’ll be verifying those numbers over the course of the weekend and then we’ll let folks know.’
¿This is a manufactured crisis by the Fraternal Order of Police,¿ Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says about a dispute between the union and the city over a requirement for officers to disclose their vaccine status.
She says she thinks the ¿vast majority¿ of officers will comply. pic.twitter.com/7yoDTrlr5VAdvertisement
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) October 15, 2021
Lightfoot appeared on CNN last night and when asked how many officers disclosed their vaccination status of today, the deadline, Lightfoot said: ‘Well we don’t have final numbers yet.’ She was sure to be ‘very clear that this is a manufactured crisis by the Fraternal Order of Police…so let’s consider the source’
‘It’s safe to say the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50 percent or less,’ Catanzara said at one point in the vide message he recorded from his desk at the Fraternal Order of Police Union office on the city’s West Side
Just yesterday Catanzara took to YouTube to tell cops to ignore the mandate, calling it ‘nonsense’ and even hinting at a potential strike as he threatened that the city could be left without half or less of its regular officers ‘this week and coming up’.
‘You are under no obligation to respond or comply,’ he said of the October 15 deadline for officers to disclose their vaccination status on an online forum.
However, no unvaccinated cops were axed from their jobs on Friday because it will take time for the city’s government to sort out who got vaccinated.
‘Once we understand that people have not complied with the simple request to say “yes” or “no” or that I’m going to take the testing option then yes, we will be moving forward and putting people into no-pay status,’ Lightfoot said.
In her statement, the mayor also cited ‘the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and Illinois common law which prohibits sworn officers from engaging in a strike’.
‘By predicting that 50 percent or more officers will violate their oaths and not report for duty, Catanzara is encouraging an unlawful strike and work stoppage which carries the potential to undermine public safety and expose our residents to irreparable harm, particularly during an ongoing pandemic,’ she added.
In response, the FOP tweeted: ‘President John Catanzara has never engaged in, supported, or encouraged a work stoppage.
‘Lightfoot is the only one who has said she will send our dedicated Officers home without pay if they choose to reject her unlawful orders.’
The FOP tweeted in response to Lightfoot’s claim that Catanzara is ‘engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike’ (pictured)
Catanzara said to cops in a YouTube video regarding the October 15 deadline: ‘You are under no obligation to respond or comply’
Meanwhile, Lightfoot used the segment on CNN to be ‘very clear that this is a manufactured crisis by the Fraternal Order of Police…so let’s consider the source’.
‘The reality is – the only way that we can create a safe workplace is…by getting people vaccinated,’ she added.
On the same day of the deadline for civil workers to report their vaccine status, Lightfoot announced Pay It Forward Chicago – an initiative to get holdout residents vaccinated.
As of Friday, 63.7 percent of Chicagoans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. The figure means 1.7million people – out of a population of 2.7million – have yet to get the shot at all, according to data from Chicago’s Coronavirus Response Center.
The plan is for Pay It Forward to act as a fundraiser to buy Visa gift cards so that select community health clinics can award people $100 gift cards for getting their Covid shots.
Yesterday Lightfoot announced Pay It Forward Chicago – an initiative in effort to get the rest of Chicagoans vaccinated – which a fundraiser to buy Visa gift cards so that select community health clinics can award people $100 gift cards for getting their Covid shots
Citywide, 63.7 percent of Chicagoans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine (pictured), meaning 1.7million people – out of a population of 2.7million – are completely unvaccinated, according to data from Chicago’s Coronavirus Response Center
Although no cops were be put on leave on Saturday, the worry is that once Lightfoot knows who got vaccinated and who didn’t, many police officers will be sent home and leave the crime-ridden city without officers.
Violent crimes are up across the board in the Windy City.
Since 2019, murders are up a whopping 56 percent. More than 200 additional murders were committed in 2021 than in 2019.
The pandemic also inspired an influx of crime. Since 2020, murders are up by three percent.
Violent assaults are also up, with nearly 100 more cases of aggravated battery taking place this year than in 2019, before the pandemic – with more than two months left to go.
Meanwhile sexual assaults and rapes are up by more than 25 percent in the past year.
Yet gun violence is arguably the city’s most pressing issue – with 1,606 people shot in this past summer alone – the population equivalent to many American small towns.
From June to August this year 261 Chicago citizens were killed, on pace to be the deadliest stretch in nearly a quarter-century for the city.
Violent crimes are up across the board in Chicago, with murders are up a whopping 56 percent since 2019 and three percent since 2020. According to the 2020 Uniform Crime Report released in late September by the FBI, 94 percent of the homicides were committed with a firearm
In Chicago, fatal shootings accounted for 94 percent of all homicides so far this year – compared to the still-dismal 90 that happened in 2020.
Last year eight-year-old Demetrius D Stevenson was shot dead while playing on the porch of his home in a gang-related shooting in a Chicago suburb.
The young boy was shot in the head after a car pulled up to the house, located at 15724 Homan Avenue, and gang members fired shots at Stevenson’s 18-year-old brother – the main target, local authorities said.
Demetrius Stevenson was shot in the head in a drive-by shooting in front of his home last month as data showed that gun violence is arguably Chicago’s most pressing issue – with 1,606 people shot in this past summer alone
Officials noted that gunfire was returned towards the car. Stevenson was rushed to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead from his gunshot wounds, and his brother escaped injury.
Days earlier high school wrestling champion Melissa ‘Azul’ de la Garza, 18, was coming back from a day of shopping for Halloween costumes and had just finished a Facetime call with her sister when an unidentified man approached her car and shot her multiple times in the torso before fleeing, according to the Chicago Police Department.
She was sitting in her parked car when the fatal shooting happened and she was pronounced dead after being rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital while in critical condition.
The influx of firearms into the hands of Chicago criminals spurred Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown to label his own city the ‘ground zero for violence’ in an interview earlier this month with CNN.
‘It’s violent people in possession of weapons,’ he was sure to add.
Melissa ‘Azul’ de la Garza (center), 18, was also shot dead. She was sitting in her parked car outside her home in Chicago’s Southwest Side when an unidentified gunman shot her multiple times in the torso
With that said, the city of Chicago’s law enforcement agency – an institution that is nearly 200 years old – has made it clear that they do not stand with the city’s new mayor.
Lightfoot has since publicly supported the ‘defund the police’ movement, backtracking in August after the officer Ella French was shot dead.
French was murdered while policing a traffic stop. Brothers Emonte, 21, and Eric Morgan, 22, were said to have been driving with expired license plates, prompting police to pull them over.
Her death was the first fatal shooting of a Chicago officer in the line of duty since Lightfoot took office and the first female officer fatally shot on the job there in 33 years.
Following French’s death Lightfoot unveiled a new plan to ‘refund the police’ – a $16.7billion spending plan that will boost funding for officers – which lifted the Chicago Police Department’s annual budget from $1.7billion to $1.9billion.
Ella French (pictured) was murdered while policing a traffic stop. Her death was the first fatal shooting of a Chicago officer in the line of duty since Lightfoot took office, prompting the mayor to increase the police department’s budget after publicly supporting the ‘defund the police’ movement a month earlier