CHICAGO - Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Friday the city has filed a complaint against the Fraternal Order of Police and its president, asking a judge to stop police from "engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike."
A judge granted the city's temporary restraining order against Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara Friday evening.
The ruling means he cannot make comments on social media or in the media that encourage union members not to comply with the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate until at least the next hearing on Oct. 25.
"Today, the court granted the City’s request for a temporary restraining order against FOP president John Catanzara which prohibits him from making public comments to the media and on social media platforms encouraging all Chicago police officers to refuse to comply with the City’s vaccination policy," the mayor's office said in a statement.
The complaint for injunctive relief comes on the heels of a standoff between City Hall and the police union over Chicago's vaccine mandate that requires all city employees to enter their vaccination status into an online portal by midnight Friday.
The requirement has been vehemently opposed by FOP President John Catanzara who said city employees cannot be forced to share their medical information.
"As Chicago’s Mayor, I cannot and will not stand idly by while the rhetoric of conspiracy theorists threatens the health and safety of Chicago’s residents and first responders," the statement from Lightfoot reads. "President Catanzara has time and again deliberately misled our police officers by lying about the requirements of the policy and falsely claiming that there will be no repercussions if officers are insubordinate and refuse to follow a City and Department directive or order."
The Fraternal Order of Police told members to defy the order, saying that police who don’t comply will be put on a no-pay status and will be sent home.
In a video Catanzara posted Tuesday, he said that if officers were turned away, the city would have a police force "at 50% or less for this weekend coming up."
Lightfoot said the guidance from Catanzara could put the safety of Chicagoans in jeopardy.
"By doing so … 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," the statement from Lightfoot reads.
Lightfoot had the health department demonstrate the city’s portal Thursday to show how employees can indicate if they are fully vaccinated or if they plan to take the option of twice weekly COVID testing.
"The information we're requiring employees to provide is very basic. Not intrusive," Lightfoot said Thursday. "It's a simple yes or no. Yes you're vaccinated. No you're not vaccinated. If yes, then you provide you're vaccination information. If no, then you're able to go to a different portal and sign up to say that you will take the weekly testing option. Pretty straight forward."
Lightfoot said the city will monitor the portal results, reach out to verify if the employee’s information is correct, and then take action, which she says will take a few days.
The Chicago Police Command staff stood with the mayor Thursday, saying officers are expected to comply, to show up for work and uphold their sworn oath to protect the city.
"Nobody is going to be turned away," said police department spokesman Tom Ahern. "Officers will be working their normal shifts this weekend (and) they wont be turned away or sent home... Officers will continue coming to work until they are told otherwise (and) that they are no longer on pay status."