Chicago FOP

Chicago FOP President Delivers Video Message After Restraining Order Granted

Chicago FOP President John Catanzara previously said the union will “deal with it” as the city's vaccine mandate goes into effect.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara released a video statement Friday night after a Cook County judge ordered the union chief to stop making public comments encouraging his members to defy the city’s COVID vaccine policies.

Judge Cecilia Horan’s decision came just hours before a deadline for officers to enter their vaccination status in a city web portal, something Catanzara had encouraged them not to do.

Following the judge's ruling, Catanzara posted a video online explaining he won't be able to speak on the policy until a follow-up hearing Monday.

"With that being said, everybody has to do what's in their hearts and minds, whatever that it is," he explained.

Catanzara then continued, taking a swipe at Chicago's leadership.

"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 then held up a sign that read: "John Catanzara for Mayor 2023" and said "enough is enough."

Earlier, during the hearing Friday, City attorney Michael Warner said police would be expected to upload their vaccination status by midnight Friday night.  But he repeated an earlier position that no one would be sent home for refusing, because as a “practical reality,” it will take officials time to determine who is in compliance.

At one point, Catanzara suggested a willingness to refrain from his public comments, if the City would tell commanders to likewise stop ordering officers to comply. Warner refused to take that deal.

“What the City has committed is that nobody will lose money, nobody will be sent home, until your honor can have a further hearing next week,” he told the judge. “What we can’t have is the command staff of the police department not doing their jobs to enforce city rules.”

FOP attorney D’Alba suggested muzzling Catanzara amounted to an infringement of his First Amendment rights. But Warner suggested the union president’s comments constituted a danger.

“It’s not First Amendment-protected speech,” he said. “He is advocating sedition. He is advocating anarchy here. That, in and of itself, is causing irreparable harm.”

In the end, the judge stopped short of asking Catanzara to retract his previous comments, but did order him to refrain from continuing to encourage his members’ defiance of the City policy.

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