Multiple court hearings are set for Wednesday amid a legal battle over Chicago's coronavirus vaccine mandate now at the center of a debate between the city and its police union leader.
There are a pair of court hearings set for Wednesday in connection with the mandate, including one hearing concerning the temporary injunction barring Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara from publicly encouraging CPD members to defy the requirements.
A motion will be heard Wednesday seeking to have the judge who granted that order recuse herself.
A second hearing is expected Wednesday after the FOP filed its own complaint seeking a temporary restraining order to compel the city to go into arbitration over the mandate.
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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has accused the police officers' union and its president of spreading misinformation about the vaccine mandate's reporting process, which asks for vaccination status and allows for a temporary window of regular COVID-19 testing at the employee’s own expense until vaccines can be administered.
The union's president, Catanzara, maintains that the order to provide information to the portal is both a violation of the officers' constitutional rights and their rights under the union’s contract with the city.
The police union's website again on Tuesday directed members to not comply, but also has offered an option to comply while providing a form to show they are doing so "under complete duress and threats of termination.”
The Fraternal Order of Police said they will fight in court for all members who are placed on unpaid status because of their refusal of a direct order.
“Don’t let them confuse you, or bully you, into going onto the portal,” Catanzara said.
So far 21 officers have been placed on unpaid status as a result of refusing to submit their information to the portal.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Supt. David Brown pushed back against the union chief’s statements, saying that his members are being “misinformed” by union leadership.
“They should be able to rely on union leadership, but many have been misinformed,” Brown said.
According to Brown, just under 68% of police employees have submitted their information to the COVID vaccine portal. Of those employees, 82% are fully vaccinated against COVID.
Brown noted that his first cousin’s immediate family, all of whom were against taking the vaccine, died as a result of contracting COVID.
“I lost my first cousin to COVID, and her husband, and her daughter, all in a two-week time span,” he said.
Brown said that the reality of what COVID has done to his family, as well as the fact that more police officers have died of COVID since the pandemic began than from any other cause, are leading him to push harder for officers to comply with the terms of the COVID vaccine mandate.
“I will say and do anything to save an officer’s life. I will,” he said.