A video recorded by a Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) captain railing against COVID-19 vaccination requirements has sparked an internal investigation. The video was recorded by 31-year department veteran Capt. Cristian Granucci of Station 108, which resides in the Beverly Hills postal area on Mulholland Drive between Franklin Canyon Park and Coldwater Canyon Park.
On Aug. 23, Granucci uploaded a 12-minute video of Granucci was uploaded to the social media app Telegram. In the video, he decried the city’s vaccine policy that requires city employees to either get vaccinated or submit to regular testing.
“I am done being silent on this matter,” he said in the video, wearing a LAFD cap and shirt. “The vaccinations will come, and then after that, it will be a booster and another booster and another booster. And when will this end? When will this tyranny stop?”
In the video, Granucci claims that there are “hundreds” of other LAFD employees who have retained an attorney–”and he is a shark.”
LAFD said in a statement that they learned of the video on the morning of Aug. 24. “While we respect the individual’s right to his opinion, he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the Department. The individual is in uniform and appears to be on duty, thereby giving the impression that he is speaking in an official capacity,” the statement said.
“Therefore, the matter has been submitted to our Professional Standards Division for investigation. The course of the investigation includes interviews and consultation with the City Attorney’s office.”
The Los Angeles City Council voted on Aug. 18 to require that city employees be fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus by October, with exemptions granted for medical or religious reasons. Those exempt from the mandate must submit to regular testing.
Los Angeles Mayor Deputy Communications Director Alex Comisar defended the city’s vaccine requirement in a statement to the Courier. “The vaccine requirement for city employees is in place to protect the health and safety of our workforce and the broader public,” he said. “The Mayor hopes that full FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will help reassure people that these vaccines are safe and effective–and he strongly urges any Angeleno who hasn’t been vaccinated to get the shot right now.”
Despite Grannuci’s dramatic claims, vaccine requirements have existed in some form since the founding of the country. George Washington famously forced his soldiers at Valley Forge to inoculate themselves against smallpox. In 1905, the Supreme Court upheld the right of states to mandate vaccination against smallpox or levy a fine against those who refused in Jacobson v. Massachusetts.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit cited Jacobson when it affirmed Indiana University’s right to require that students be vaccinated against COVID-19. Judge Frank Easterbrook, a prominent conservative jurist appointed by Ronald Reagan, wrote in the opinion that “vaccination requirements, like other public-health measures, have been common in this nation.” Easterbrook’s ruling was signed onto by two judges appointed by Donald Trump. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, herself appointed by Trump, declined to hear an appeal of the ruling, thereby upholding a lower court’s ruling in favor of the university.
Additionally, every state and the District of Columbia currently require vaccinations for children to attend school. This, too, has withstood the scrutiny of litigation. In 1922, the Supreme Court ruled in Zucht v. King that a school district in San Antonio, Texas, could prohibit unvaccinated children from attending school. In that case, San Antonio had enacted an ordinance requiring students to show a “certificate of vaccination” to gain admittance to educational facilities. Justice Louis Brandeis pointed toward the Jacobson case in his opinion, which he said “had settled that it is within the police power of a state to provide for compulsory vaccination.”