LA municipal workers and first responders chant ‘FREEDOM’ in massive mandate protest outside city hall

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Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people turned out Monday in Democrat-run Los Angeles to protest vaccination mandates which are seen as among the strictest in the country.

The demonstration, organized by Firefighters4Freedom, took place on the doorstep of City Hall, with many municipal employees participating in the protest against COVID-19 vaccination mandates. People were seen in uniforms depicting the Los Angeles city and county fire departments, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other government agencies, NBC4 LA reported.

Los Angeles firefighter Scott Tomlin told the NBC affiliate he is prepared to lose his job “because I’m not prepared to lose my life over it.”

In early October, Los Angeles approved in an 11-2 vote a sweeping measure that requires vaccinations in order to enter bars, restaurants, nail salons, gyms and the like, according to the Associated Press. The ordinance requiring proof of full vaccination for patrons and workers went into effect Thursday, Nov. 4.

Residents 12 and up are now required to be fully vaccinated “to enter indoor public spaces including shopping malls, restaurants, bars, gyms, sports arenas, museums, spas, nail salons, indoor city facilities and other locations,” the news agency reported, adding that those with religious or medical exemptions must show negative coronavirus tests within 72 hours of entering a public facility.

A video shared online Monday featured protestors chanting, “Freedom!”

The measure effectively creates two classes of people: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. While it’s business as usual for those in compliance, the unvaccinated are relegated to using outdoor facilities, although they are allowed to venture inside a business to use a restroom or pick up a food order.

“Vaccinating more Angelenos is our only way out of this pandemic, and we must do everything in our power to keep pushing those numbers up,” Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the time. “These new rules will encourage more people to get the shot, and make businesses safer for workers and customers — so that we can save more lives.”

The irony here is that Garcetti recently tested positive for COVID-19, despite being vaccinated, which undermines his very argument.

City employees have until Dec. 18 to get vaccinated or acquire an exemption, and the mayor said on Oct. 20 that those who refuse should be “prepared to lose their job,” according to NBC4.

“The city’s employee vaccine mandate is critical to protecting the health and safety of our workforce and the Angelenos we serve,” he said. “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.”

The punitive effect being imposed on currently unvaccinated employees is that they have to submit to two COVID-19 tests per week at $65 a pop, which is deducted from their paychecks, and they have to test on their own time with the city or a vendor of the city’s choosing.

As it stands, the city’s police force stands to lose as much as 25 percent of its personnel.

On Friday, the LA Times cited police officials to report that “about 75% of the LAPD’s 12,000-plus workforce have been vaccinated,” but that there are still hundreds of personnel who have not informed the department of their vaccination status and thousands more seeking exemptions.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore said unvaccinated officers will be hand-delivered notices giving them 48 hours to sign off on the conditions or be placed off duty pending disciplinary proceedings to separate them from the force, the newspaper reported.

“I remain hopeful that these employees will all get vaccinated or enter into the agreement for those intent on filing an exemption,” Moore said.

Tom Tillison

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