A judge of Chicago on Friday banned the president of the city’s police union from making public statements about the City Council’s policy on the coronavirus covid-19, at a time of crossed demands for the obligation to get vaccinated.
The dispute between the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, and the president of the local police union, John Catanzara, has made the city the epicenter of an extremely polarized debate about vaccines and whether public authorities have the right to impose them.
The mayor sued the union member and a city judge banned the union for 10 days. Catanzara make statements that encourage corps members not to report their immunization status.
The police union filed its own lawsuit on Friday against Lightfoot and the superintendent of the police Chicago, David Brown, who intends to force arbitration on the matter.
Like all city employees, Chicago cops were required to report their vaccination status on an online portal by midnight Friday. Those who are not vaccinated will be tested twice a week.
Those who refuse to give information about their status have a few days of grace to explain themselves, but they face period of unpaid leave and even dismissal.
In two videos posted this week, Catanzara urged police officers to ignore the order even at the risk of losing their pay.
Cataranza predicted that Chicago would have a “police force at 50% or less by this weekend” if officers followed their advice.
Lightfoot answered: “I cannot and will not sit idly by as the rhetoric of conspiracy theorists threatens the health and safety of Chicagoans.”
He also accused Catanzara to “promote a work stoppage or strike.”
Both state law and the union contract prohibit Chicago police from striking.
The union responded with a tweet on Friday: “President John Catanzara has never participated, supported or encouraged a work stoppage ”.
Initially Lightfoot approved that all municipal employees had to be vaccinated, but later softened the measure by allowing those not vaccinated to take two COVID-19 tests weekly until the end of the year.
According to the Officer Down page, 228 police officers in the United States have died from covid-19 so far this year, which makes it the main cause of death in the act of service among the 356 registered fatalities.
The confrontation of Chicago occurs at a time when the city is once again at the forefront of USA in terms of murders, with 639 homicides this year until October 13, 55% more than two years ago.
Shootings have also increased by 68% in that period and the number of car thefts is at record highs, so the threat of losing much of the police force, even temporarily, has caused a deep sense of unease.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker told a conservative radio host that he is considering calling the National Guard.
“We have offered all the resources, all the public safety resources that the state has to offer to the city of Chicago, so if the city calls us, we will respond.” Pritzker said.