News Story

Ann Arbor firefighter reprimanded for breaking COVID-protocols that mayor — and governor — also violated

Tim Rugg protested Whitmer’s ban on large gatherings; Ann Arbor mayor joins big crowd that chants ‘black lives matter’ just a month later

Tim Rugg, a 22-year veteran of the Ann Arbor Fire Department, was fired in Dec. 2021 for refusing to comply with a COVID vaccination mandate. But before that happened, he was disciplined for attending a protest against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown policies during the COVID pandemic, Michigan Capitol Confidential has learned through an open records request.

An employee disciplinary report filed against Rugg says he was given a verbal reprimand for attending an April 30, 2020, protest at the Michigan Capitol.

It cites his own statement — “Rugg admitted to traveling to the State Capitol on April 30, 2020 to attend an event with several hundred people” — as well as media photos showing people who were unmasked and also not practicing social distancing.

Ruggs was suspended and then fired in late 2021 for not getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Ruggs made an unsuccessful attempt to get an exemption from the mandate, citing religious grounds.

A month after the lockdown protest and week after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor attended a Black Lives Matter protest. By attending the June 2, 2020, event, Taylor defied the governor’s lockdown orders. Two days later, Whitmer violated her own order by attending a similar event.

Rugg is suing the city over his termination, as CapCon has previously reported. CapCon submitted a FOIA request for his personnel file after he was terminated from city employment solely for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. Rugg was one of only a few city employees who was not granted a religious exemption.

The city notes in Rugg’s personnel file:

Media photos from the [April 2020 lockdown protest] event show that social distancing and face coverings were not being used. Other alternative and reasonable means of communication and interaction with state elected officials to express his constitutional rights could have been utilized. His attendance and exposure placed himself, members of the Ann Arbor Fire Department and citizens of the City at extremely high risk for COVID-19 exposure. By his actions, D/O Rugg violated Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order No. 2020-59.

Taylor and a spokeswoman for the city of Ann Arbor did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.