Police Union Chief Fighting Vaccine Mandate Hints He'll Run to Replace Chicago Mayor Lightfoot

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 (FOP) President John Catanzara suggested on Friday that he will run for Chicago mayor, amid a feud between himself and Mayor Lori Lightfoot over the city's vaccine mandate.

During a 50-second video, Catanzara said that the city's policy has to change. He then raised a sign that read: "John Catanzara for Mayor 2023."

The police union chief released the clip shortly after a judge issued a temporary restraining order on Friday banning Catanzara from discussing the COVID vaccine mandate.

Newsweek contacted Lightfoot's office and the FOP for comments, and asked the police union if whether Catanzara officially plans to run for mayor.

A follow-up hearing is scheduled for Monday, according to Catanzara, but he can't speak about the vaccine policy in "any way, shape or form" until then.

"Everybody has to do what's in their hearts and minds, whatever that is," he said during the video. "But I will just leave you with this. 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."

Catanzara has clashed with Lightfoot over the city's vaccine mandate. On Friday, the mayor has filed a complaint for injunctive relief against the FOP and Catanzara after he asked police officers to not follow Chicago's vaccine reporting mandate.

Lightfoot said in a statement that Catanzara and the FOP are "engaging in, supporting and encouraging a work stoppage or strike."

"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," she said.

In response to her statement, the FOP in a tweet Friday denied the mayor's allegations against Catanzara: "President John Catanzara has never engaged in, supported, or encouraged a work stoppage."

President John Catanzara has never engaged in, supported, or encouraged a work stoppage. @LoriLightfoot is the only one who has said she will send our dedicated Officers home without pay if they choose to reject her unlawful orders.

Hold the line, CPD, like you always do. https://t.co/m5fEI5sLdX

— Fraternal Order of Police - Chicago Lodge #7 (@FOP7Chicago) October 15, 2021

On Tuesday, Catanzara said that officers should not comply with an order requiring them to provide information via an online city portal about their vaccination status by Friday.

"I've made my status very clear as far as the vaccine, but I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history," he said.

He also warned that the city might be left with a police force of 50 percent or less over the weekend if many officers don't provide their vaccination information.

He then blamed Lightfoot for the potential outcome, saying: "That is not because of the [Fraternal Order of Police]. That is 100 percent because of the mayor's unwillingness to budge from her hard line."

Catanzara noted that it would be difficult "to sustain a police department workforce at 50 percent capacity or less for more than seven days without something budging."

Police Union Chief hints he'll replace Lightfoot
Police union chief John Catanzara has clashedwith Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot over vaccine mandate after officers were required to provide information about their vaccination status. Above, Lightfoot speaks during a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park on September 28 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images