CHICAGO - Amid the back and forth between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago’s police union, Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church is now weighing in.
In recent weeks, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara has been leading the charge against Mayor Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate for city workers. Catanzara believes city employees, including Chicago cops, should not have to reveal whether or not they have been vaccinated.
Catanzara claims Mayor Lightfoot's administration is seeking to divide the union by punishing a few dozen officers at a time, until they agree to report their vaccine status. So far, more than 20 officers have been put on a "no pay" status.
"We are calling for the city to treat all our members exactly the same. It is not fair we have 23 members suspended for nine days now. This is their ninth day," Catanzara said. "That's not fair, because the person at the end of the process will be suspended for one day, while someone else might be suspended 70 days. That's not the way it's supposed to work."
Officials say 71% of all officers have complied with Lightfoot's requirement they reveal whether or not they've been vaccinated.
On Tuesday, Father Pfleger tweeted out that Catanzara is dangerous and encouraged Chicago police officers to "denounce" their union president.
"FOP John Catanzara, the man that defended the murderer of Laquan McDonald is a dangerous man, but elected by the majority of police. [We] always hear the community needs to stand up, well. i don't believe most police agree with him. They need now to stand up and denounce him," the tweet read.
Meanwhile, suspending the approximately 3,000 officers in violation of Mayor Lightfoot’s vaccine rule would dramatically worsen what many Chicagoans already consider a public safety crisis on the city's streets.
That's exactly the scenario Catanzara foresees, believing it would force the mayor to abandon her vaccine status reporting requirement.
He claims current officers can't be replaced.
"Nobody wants this job," Catanzara said. "I heard they couldn't even get 500 coppers, or 500 people, to take that police test over the weekend. In 11 different locations, with two different times each day on Friday and Saturday. And you couldn't even get 500 people to take this job. And you're threatening to throw out 3,000? It just makes no sense in a city that again, just topped the 700 murder mark again."
Catanzara said the union would agree to have each of its members tested before going out each day onto the street or to their desk job.
He said even a vaccinated officer could contract a breakthrough infection and possibly become contagious.