CHICAGO — A group of state lawmakers demanded that chief of the union representing rank-and-file Chicago police officers apologize and resign in response to his remarks comparing the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate to the Holocaust.
After Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced this week that all city employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President John Catanzara told the Chicago Sun-Times that officers of all ranks were united against the mandate.
“We’re in America, goddamn it. We don’t want to be forced to do anything. Period. This ain’t Nazi f—— Germany,” Catanzara told the paper Wednesday. “[Where they say,] ‘Step into the f—— showers. The pills won’t hurt you.'”
On Friday, the 15-member Illinois Legislative Jewish Caucus issued a statement responding to Catanzara’s remarks. It described vaccine mandates as a vital public health instrument, especially in the case of government employees who interact with the public.
“But the comparison of vaccine mandates to the Nazi genocide is despicable. While we don’t need to belabor the distinctions between poison gas and an FDA-approved vaccine, it bears saying: Vaccines are safe. They save lives. And the Holocaust is an unimaginable tragedy that happened to our people, not a flippant metaphor for the airing of ignorant, petty, aggrieved opinions,” the group said.
“Catanzara has shown once and for all that his voice does not belong in civil public discourse,” it said. “We call upon him to resign immediately and to issue an apology for his intolerant and intolerable remarks to Jews everywhere.”
According to Lightfoot’s office, employees can apply for medical or religious exemptions from the vaccination requirement, and requests will be reviewed by the city’s human resources department on a case-by-case basis.
The mayor’s announcement of the policy did not include any details about mandatory testing for the unvaccinated or how the requirement would be enforced, although Catanzara suggested the city had threatened not to pay officers who refuse to get vaccinated.
Fellow officers elected Catanzara in May 2020 with 55 percent of the vote in a runoff election over incumbent Kevin Graham. He has since faced multiple disciplinary proceedings before the Chicago Police Board, and two superintendents have so far been unsuccessful in efforts to fire him.
The union president’s remarks about the vaccine mandate earlier drew swift condemnation from local Jewish groups.
“The comparison of mandatory vaccinations to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust is factually incorrect and deeply offensive to the millions of innocent people killed at the hands of the Nazis,” tweeted the Midwest office of the Anti-Defamation League.
The Jewish Community Relations Council, an umbrella organization for dozens of Jewish and the community relations arm of the Jewish United Fund, also responded to Catanzara’s remarks on social media.
“Nazis–often in police uniforms–murdered millions of Jews and others. CPD however is committed to protecting all of Chicago,” it said in a tweet. “[Catanzara] comparing [Lightfoot’s] vaccine mandate to Nazi gas chambers is ignorant & defiles the memory of the murdered and US GIs who defeated the Nazis.”
The Jewish Caucus includes State Sens. Laura Fine (D-Glenview), Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview), Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) and Ram Villivalam (D-Skokie), as well as State Reps. Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook), Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), Margaret Croke (D-Chicago), Daniel Didech (D-Buffalo Grove), Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), Anna Moeller (D-Elgin), Bob Morgan (D-Deerfield), Denyse Wang Stoneback (D-Skokie), Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake).
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August 27, 2021 at 01:22PM