Thousands of city workers and those opposed to the Los Angeles City employee vaccine mandate protested outside of Los Angeles City Hall Monday, hoping to turn around the law before the extended December deadline.
The city worker mandate, similar to the LA County worker mandate, was passed in August with an October deadline, making vaccinations mandatory for all city employees unless they have medical or religious exemptions. Due to a lack of “vaccination progress,” the deadline was extended to December 18th last month in the hopes that more will vaccinate in time.
Proponents have said that the mandates are in place to help combat COVID-19 spread and surges due to mutation. Prominent lawmakers have said that the mandates are for health and wellness, and that, despite only about 75% of city departments being vaccinated, all unvaccinated city employees will be fired by December if they remain unvaccinated.
“The City’s employee vaccine mandate is critical to protecting the health and safety of our workforce and the Angelenos we serve,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said last month. “Employees must be vaccinated by December 18, and we are putting a rigorous testing program into place in the meantime. Let me be clear: any employee who refuses to be vaccinated by this date should be prepared to lose their job.”
However, opponents, led by the Firefighters 4 Freedom and other city worker opposition groups, have refused vaccines due to bodily autonomy, personal freedom, constitutional, and health concerns. That opposition, as well as a fast-approaching deadline, led to the rally in Los Angeles on Monday.
Service delays, 25% layoffs
Many LAPD, LAFD, and other city workers protested the mandate and warned that service delays and response times would be crippled if each department had to lay off around 25% of their staff each.
“We’re not all these anti-vax people,” said one LAPD officer who attended the rally on Monday, and asked to remain anonymous. “We just don’t want to be forced into getting something we don’t want that infringes on our rights.”
“And, believe it or not, we also get that, yes, vaccinations can build up immunities and all that. But there is a difference between asking and demanding, and they’re saying we can’t go to public places or be employees based on a personal choice. It’s sickening.”
“They fire me, well, there’s thousands more gone too. Fire, emergencies, police; 911 will have to go to voicemail on busy days.”
“We actually have some buddies who were on the Detroit PD and Flint PD when they had to have similar cuts during the recession, and it was not pretty. Crime shot up, out of control blazes shot up. Everything. So there is precedent for what will likely happen. And right now we’re playing chicken with the politicians. They’re trying to get us vaccinated against our will and we’re standing here ready to go whichever way they decide. And right now, they may stop it. They already delayed it once, which gave a lot of us hope. If they were serious, they wouldn’t have given extensions. They flinched, and a lot of us believe that they will flinch again.”
At the protest, the founder of the LAPD anti-mandate group Roll Call 4 Freedom, Michael McMahon, said that many had already left their positions – including himself.
“I turned in my badge and my gun on Friday,” said McMahon. “It was one of the hardest days of my life. “I could not acquiesce in good conscience to submit my health to a still-experimental injection. Thousands of city employees are struggling with these issues related to their employment, and I want to say to you all, from the bottom of my heart, I love you and I understand. But coercion is not informed consent.”
After his speech, cheers and cries of “We will not comply!” resounded outside the City Hall.
City officials have given no indication that they will rescind the mandate as of Monday. The deadline date for all LA city workers to get the vaccination before termination is December 18th.
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