The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, June 09, 2021 1:00 am

Vaccine passport resolution generates heat

Nonbinding proposal in opposition talked about at City Council

DEVAN FILCHAK | The Journal Gazette

A nonbinding resolution against COVID-19 vaccination passports brought a lot of emotions, including those of 14 local residents.

Fort Wayne City Councilman Jason Arp introduced the resolution Tuesday. Arp, R-4th, attended the council meeting via Zoom. The resolution was only being introduced and won't be voted on for a few weeks.

Discussion is generally held for the day members vote on passing the resolution or ordinance, but a few council members wanted to explain why they were voting against the introduction of the resolution.

Councilwoman Michelle Chambers, D-at large, was the first to speak out against introducing what she called a “redundant” resolution that would cause more division among the community. Indiana House Bill 1405 deals with insurance matters but also includes language stopping local and state governments from mandating vaccine passports.

Glynn Hines, D-at large, and Sharon Tucker, D-6th, agreed with Chambers, adding the resolution was unnecessary.

Geoff Paddock, D-5th, said he saw his fellow Democrats' points, but voted to have the bill introduced into committee to be fair to listen to ordinances other fellow members think are important, citing the frustration the Democratic council members felt when collective bargaining for city workers was not discussed last year.

Sixteen people signed up in advance to make public comments, and 14 were present to speak. All were in favor of Arp's resolution.

The first to speak was Brian Thompson, who also urged the Allen County commissioners to adopt a similar resolution or ordinance during their meeting Friday. IU Health is making it mandatory for all employees, volunteers and vendors, and Thomspon said that hit close to home for him since he is a vendor for Dupont Hospital.

Speakers shared information about the vaccine and concerns of being forced to get vaccinations or having freedoms taken away due to not being vaccinated. Multiple people compared the discrimination and infringement of rights that would come with a possible vaccine passport mandate to the Holocaust and Nazi Germany.

Public speakers were limited to two minutes. Ashley Grogg was the second speaker and was nearly turned away because she would share only her ZIP code and not her full address. All people who speak during the public comment portion of the meeting are required to give their names and addresses prior to the meeting and on the record.

When council President Paul Ensley, R-1st, told Grogg she needed to give her address, she asked what his address was. All City Council members have their addresses and phone numbers published publicly on the city website. Grogg cited fears of someone possibly targeting her home due to her comments but eventually stated an address for the record after Ensley banged a gavel.

At least one public speaker appeared to be using a fake address.

At the end of each meeting, each council member has the opportunity to make closing comments. Chambers and Tucker used their time to address the resolution and public comments.

Tucker, who is Black, said it was painful to hear people talk about discrimination when it comes to masks and vaccinations because she and many people have faced actual discrimination due to their race. 

“While this resolution may not be law, it sends a message,” Arp said, after thanking supporters for speaking at the meeting.

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