Police and firefighters sue Oregon governor over COVID vaccine mandate

A group of about 35 cops and firefighters have decided to take Oregon’s far-left governor to court over her vaccine mandate.

The lawsuit by the Oregon Fraternal Order of Police and a firefighters’ association emerged about 48 hours after a state trooper posted an Instagram video while in uniform and apparently on patrol in which he vowed to resist the vaccination order and risk his job.

The message resulted in the officer, identified by multiple media outlets as Zachary Kowing, winding up on paid leave pending an investigation into a potential violation of the agency’s social media rules.

Under Democrat Kate Brown’s executive order, state workers, including first responders, face an October 18 deadline to get fully vaccinated. Those who fail to comply could be subject to discipline up to termination.

“The individual plaintiffs are Executive Branch employees…who want to exercise control over their own medical treatment and are being forced to choose between their rights privileges and liberties as citizens on the one hand and their employment, careers, and financial futures on the other,” the lawsuit maintains in part, according to The Oregonian.

The plaintiffs have petitioned the judge to declare Brown’s order unenforceable because it violates existing state law, including running counter to constitutionally protected free speech.

The case was filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Brown has also imposed a statewide mask mandate. that includes outdoor public spaces when social distancing isn’t practical, irrespective of vaccination status.

Separately, an official with the Oregon State Police Officers Association suggested that the jab requirement is a term or condition of employment that must first be collectively bargained under applicable union contracts.

“I’m a Christian, a husband, a father, and a police officer,” Trooper Kowing said in the preamble of his 2-1/2-minute Instagram video. “I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, to protect the freedom of the people who pay my salary. I do not work for my governor but for them…

“I have personal and religious reasons as to why I will not take the vaccine, but also the freedom to choose not to,” the officer continued. “I’ll likely get fired over this video, but I’m nonetheless exercising my First Amendment right to speak freely.”

Watch the video embedded below and draw your own conclusions:

“I have fallen in line for over a year with these useless, ineffective mask mandates, and I will no more. I will not sit back and sheepishly watch as those who serve the people of this state are given unlawful orders which threaten their livelihoods should they choose not to fall in line. Discretion is one of the most important parts of my job as a police officer,” Kowing explained.

“I will use that discretion, and I will not enforce useless mask mandates or unlawful vaccine orders. Doing so is discrimination, which I would be fired for if it were any other discriminatory subcategory. Miss Governor, I think you have forgotten that you were elected by the people, therefore you work for the people. The title of governor does not give free rein to force medical decisions upon us…”

Kowing’s lawyer, who is also representing those who are suing the governor and the state on the mandate, reaffirmed what the trooper said at the end of the video, that the 29-year-old cop is pro-choice when it comes to the COVID vaccine and that his objection is about the mandate.

“‘Trooper Kowing has had several friends and a few family members that have had Covid and lived to tell the tale,’ [Attorney Dan] Thenell said. ‘He does not discount the toll that this has taken on people, including some close to him. He has many friends who have taken the vaccine and supports their choice to do so.’

“Thenell said Kowing is speaking for himself in the video; ‘however, many other troopers share his view,'” The Oregonian separately reported.

Kowing is apparently not one of the plaintiffs in the pending lawsuit.

According to the governor’s spokeswoman, “The vast majority of Oregonians hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated. People are dying right now when we have safe, effective, and free vaccines readily available. The Governor is responding to a public health crisis.”

She added that “Given the seriousness of the situation, employer vaccine requirements have become an important tool, and state government plays a part. It’s critical to protect state workers, workplaces, and facilities, as well as members of the public who use state services

Many observers have opined that the left has abruptly abandoned its traditional support for bodily autonomy during the pandemic.

Watch a report on the pending case from KGW:

Robert Jonathan

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