Some Seattle police officers are hanging ‘don’t tread on me’ Gadsden flags from their cruisers to protest a citywide vaccine mandate that takes effect at midnight Monday.
Officials estimate that up to 300 officers could be let go if they don’t submit proof of vaccination by the October 18 deadline, and that the loss would represent an exodus worse than the one suffered amid the ‘defund the police’ movement last year.
Seattle’s ordinance – which aligns with county- and state-wide mandates also taking effect October 18 – requires all city employees to show proof of inoculation or risk losing their jobs.
Defiant officers used yellow Gadsden flags that depict a snake ready to strike to express their displeasure with the new rules.
As of Monday, six percent of Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers had not yet submitted proof of vaccination, Chief Adrian Diaz said in an email obtained by KTTH Radio.
Seattle police spokesperson Sgt. Randy Huserik said officers who don’t turn in their vaccine verification paperwork by midnight October 18 will likely ‘be terminated.’
‘By tomorrow, we’ll know what our numbers are, and how many officers have opted to forego the vaccine,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘The Seattle Police Officers Guild is still in negotiations with the city over accommodations for those opposed to the vaccine.’
Seattle police officers opposed to a city vaccine mandate that takes effect today hung yellow ‘Don’t tread on me’ Gadsden signs on their police cruisers during the weekend
The officers are among thousands of Americans opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates
The Seattle police force is not alone, with officers in other major cities such as Chicago also fighting vaccine policies.
Similar vaccine-related unrest is happening in Chicago, where officers have been warned that they’ll be fired if they don’t get the jab, CNN reported.
In New York City, Mayor Bill di Blasio said he’s ‘looking at all options’ before deciding whether to mandate jabs for the NYPD, the largest municipal police department in the U.S.
The Seattle Police Department is already struggling with staffing after losing officers to the defund the police movement. Department staffing is at lows not seen since the 1980s
A Washington state trooper says he’s already quit over a similar statewide mandate
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued a plea to officers Monday, imploring them to get the jab by the deadline.
She also thanked officers who have already received the vaccine.
‘Thank you for stepping up yet again to protect your fellow officers and community,’ she said in an email obtained by KTTH radio.
‘We ask every SDP employee to join so many who have taken this critical step to protect our city.’
If some officers do hang up their badges over the mandate, it would be the latest blow to a force already hampered by the ‘defund the police’ movement.
Staffing at the department is already at lows not seen since the 1980s.
In July, it was revealed that the department had already lost at least 280 officers since the start of 2020 due to what they called an ‘anti-police climate’ in the city amid Black Lives Matter protests and calls to defund the police.
The Seattle Police Department’s 1,125 officers are tasked with protecting more than 724,000 people.
DON’T TREAD ON ME: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GADSDEN FLAG
American soldier Christopher Gadsden
The Gadsden flag was designed by South Carolina soldier Christopher Gadsden in the mid-1770s during the American Revolution.
The colonel had seen a yellow banner with a hissing, coiled rattlesnake rising up in the center, and beneath the serpent the words: ‘Don’t Tread On Me’.
Colonel Gadsden made a copy and submitted the design to the Provincial Congress in South Carolina.
Commodore Esek Hopkins, commander of the new Continental fleet, carried a similar flag in early 1776 when his ships went to sea for the first time.
Last Friday, the department utilized its ‘stage-3 mobilization plan,’ which puts all officers on standby to respond to 911 calls.
‘We used a couple of detectives in one of the precincts that were short on their staffing minimums, but otherwise we haven’t had any issues,’ Huserik said.
Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Sloan said the vaccine mandate could exacerbate the understaffing.
‘If we lose what appears to be over 300 people because of this mandate, this public safety crisis we’re experiencing will look like child’s play,’ Sloan told CBS58.
Meantime, some Washington state troopers are calling it quits over the mandate.
Last weekend, a veteran Washington State trooper who was forced out of the job by the state’s vaccine mandate released a video of his final sign-off and ended it by saying ‘Governor Jay Inslee can kiss my a**.’
The unidentified trooper told how he had served in the department for more than 22 years in Yakima County.
But Saturday night was his last shift, with Inslee’s mandate ordering most state employees to be vaccinated coming into force on October 18.