Facing a deadline Friday on vaccine mandates, thousands of New York City municipal employees protested Thursday in front of Gracie Mansion, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s residence. It was the second massive demonstration against de Blasio’s vax mandate in the city this week. An estimated 5,000 city workers participated in a protest march in NYC on Monday.
The city’s firefighters, police officers, emergency medical service employees, and other municipal workers are facing a harsh ultimatum by 5:00 p.m. Friday: Get vaccinated or be placed on unpaid leave.
According to CBS News, 68 percent of FDNY members are vaccinated, along with 73 percent of the NYPD, and 65 percent of the Department of Sanitation.
One first responders held a sign reading: “We have always been there … Monday we were told don’t show up.” Another one read: “My children are going to be less safe.”
Protesters chanted, “USA, USA!” and the popular favorite, “let’s go Brandon!”
— Ann Clark (@bankiegirl) October 28, 2021
JUST IN 🚨 Large crowd protests in front of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s home over vaccine mandate, chants “Let’s Go Brandon” pic.twitter.com/2RoKNsk7Ds
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) October 28, 2021
One passionate first responder gave a fiery speech declaring that the New Yorkers who worked heroically throughout the pandemic should have the basic human right of autonomy over their own bodies.
“We stand united in one cause!” she began.
My brothers and sisters want common cause to have freedom to choose! The ability to choose is our God-given right! Our free will—our right to choose for ourselves, our families, our loved ones— this is OUR bodies—Not YOURS! We worked through this pandemic for over a year. We worked! We WORKED! We worked tirelessly long hours without fear—BOLDLY!—took care of the citizens of this city of New York. We answered countless—COUNTLESS!—calls! Countless EMS emergencies, and other emergencies to keep the city safe. We are citizens of the United States of America—NEW YORKERS!
NOW – New York firefighters, EMS, NYPD, and other municipal workers protest against vaccine mandates. pic.twitter.com/oHO7cnt5EI
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) October 28, 2021
Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, on Wednesday told members to go to work whether they’re vaccinated or not ahead of Friday’s deadline.
“I have told my members that if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty,” Ansbro said during a news conference.
“If they are told they cannot work, it will be the department and city of New York that sends them home. And it will be the department and the city of New York that has failed to protect the citizens of New York.”
New York could face a drastic shortage of firefighters, sanitation workers and cops by Friday evening.
“This is really an absolutely unnecessary threat to the lives of New Yorkers,” said Ansbro. “There is no crisis. Right now, 8% of New York City firefighters are out with fire-related injuries, and one-sixteenth of that number is out with COVID.”
The city says it’s ready to show the door to 3,500 FDNY members if they don’t get the shot before Friday. A high ranking FDNY source told CBS2 as many as 20% of fire companies could close, and their ambulance fleet may be impacted as well.
Those attending the rally said if the mayor doesn’t budge on his mandate, it could mean lives are lost.
“No other way to do this,” Ansbro said. “We currently have a staffing shortage as it is.”
De Blasio defended the mandate Thursday, saying the FDNY commissioner has a contingency plan.
“Mandatory overtime, scheduling changes, there’s other options they can turn to to address the situation,” he said. “We will be ready. If folks show up who are not vaccinated, their supervisors will address that.”
A Staten Island judge meanwhile rejected a police union’s request to temporarily block the implementation of the city’s vaccine mandate.
The Police Benevolent Association, New York City’s largest police union, had argued in their request for a temporary restraining order on Monday that the policy does not make clear potential exceptions for medical or religious reasons, and does not give unvaccinated officers sufficient time to apply for such exemptions, as those appeals must have been submitted by Wednesday — one week after the mandate was announced.
“Today’s ruling sets the city up for a real crisis. The haphazard rollout of this mandate has created chaos in the NYPD,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement. “City Hall has given no reason that a vaccine mandate with a weekly testing option is no longer enough to protect police officers and the public, especially while the number of COVID-19 cases continues to fall.”
The police union plans to file an immediate appeal to the ruling.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, where city workers were required to be fully vaccinated by October 15, the mayor was booed of the stage Sunday at the annual fundraiser for the plumbers’ union.
Lightfoot was met with a cacophony of boos as she approached the podium to speak at the event.
The Plumbers Union Local 130 was the first union to endorse Lightfoot during the 2019 runoff election against Toni Preckwinkle.
The video shows Jim Coyne, the union’s business manager, introducing Lightfoot to an eruption of boos as she took the podium.
‘I knew that was going to happen,’ a person off camera is heard saying.
‘That’s f**king brutal,’ another said in the video.
An anonymous attendee told The Chicago Sun Times that the mayor was ‘booed off the stage.’
They said that Lightfoot: ‘Spoke for less than a minute. And there was a resounding booing throughout the room. Almost deafening, … I was sitting at the table with a bunch of plumbers. They’re like, `We’ve never heard that before here.’ … Clearly, their membership is not with her. … They were calling her names. It was bad.’
Apparently, after putting hundreds of Chicago police on “no-pay leave” over their refusal to submit to her tyrannical vaccine mandate, Lightfoot is desperately trying to fill the gap of officer shortages by requesting additional manpower from area county sheriffs.
But the sheriff’s have reportedly rebuffed her pleas for help.
“DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick and Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said they’ve helped Lightfoot in the past, but her latest request is a self-inflicted wound that could have been avoided. They said they would only step in and help the Chicago Police Department if city officers were in distress or under duress,” Yahoo News reported.