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Shoe Throwing Becomes Popular!!

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Protester throws shoes at Peterson during city meeting

ITHACA – A protester dressed in his 1950s-era military uniform threw his shoes at Mayor Carolyn Peterson and brought Common Council’s Wednesday night meeting to an almost hour-long standstill, insisting that he wanted to be arrested in protest over the Council’s position against the “immoral wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Long-time Ithacan and former Weather Underground member Robin Palmer began speaking at about 7:15 p.m., near the beginning of Council’s privilege of the floor, during which any citizen may speak on any topic.

Palmer handed out packets of information on the U.S.S. Indianapolis, a Navy vessel sunk during World War II; Common Council’s Community of Sanctuary resolution, which asserts Ithaca’s commitment to protect the rights of military personnel protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a statement addressed to the editor of The Ithaca Journal titled “Who were the terrorists? And who are the unrepentant?”

Palmer then addressed the Council, saying he was drafted in Ithaca in 1952 and was honorably discharged two years later. He then stated, “I’m here to protest the Community of Sanctuary Resolution.”

Palmer repeatedly called the resolution “odious” and “nauseous” and challenged the Council members to explain what right they had to make such assertions.

“You … resolve that ‘all city officials and all city employees and all others who are opposed to the immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan’ – excuse me, who are you to say that the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan is immoral? Who are you to say that?” Palmer said.

The Council passed the resolution unanimously at its October 2008 meeting. The resolution declares Ithaca a “Community of Sanctuary, thus respecting the rights of its residents to support lawfully and proactively military personnel and veterans who are organizing to stop the wars in and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and all future violations of the United Nations Nuremberg Charters.”

An AWOL Fort Drum soldier cited the resolution late last year when asking Council members to write him letters of support as he hoped to avoid a court martial or jail time.

Members of the public are normally limited to three minutes during privilege of the floor, but Peterson allowed Palmer to continue.

Palmer recounted some of the history of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, stating that one of the sailors who died onboard was Robert Carrol Sams, brother of the late Common Council alderwoman Diann Sams.

“Your nauseous resolution is a desecration, is a desecration to the death of Robert Sams, and it doesn’t do Diann any justice either,” Palmer said.

Peterson then told Palmer that his time was up, to which Palmer replied, “I know it is.”

He then reached into a bag, pulled out two shoes and hurled one at Alderman J.R. Clairborne, D-2nd, and another at Peterson. The first shoe flew between Clairborne and Alderman Eric Rosario, I-2nd. The second fell short of the Mayor. Several Council members pushed their chairs away from Palmer while Clairborne and Aldermen Svante Myrick, D-4th, stood and began to approach Palmer. There were roughly 30 people in the city hall audience.

Palmer pulled another shoe from his bag and waved it at Council members, asking “Who wants another one?”

Ithaca Police Officer Brad Nelson, who has attended virtually every Common Council meeting since an incident in February 2008 when a gunman killed five people in a Missouri city hall, approached Palmer and placed his arm around him, attempting to calm him.

Palmer continued to shout at the Council members, then Peterson informed Palmer that Nelson is the son of Diann Sams, nephew of Robert Carrol Sams. Palmer looked surprised and greeted Nelson, smiling.

Palmer then said, “I want my shoes back.”

“You’re not getting your shoes back,” Peterson responded.

Palmer said, “I’m not getting them back? Then I’m not leaving.”

He sat down and insisted he would not leave until he was arrested.

Peterson then ordered Council members to leave the room and go to an adjoining conference room.

For roughly 10 minutes, Nelson continued talking calmly with Palmer, encouraging him to leave. Janis Kelly, chairwoman of the City of Ithaca Republican party and the only person who spoke against the Community of Sanctuary resolution when it was passed in October, was also in the audience. Kelly approached Palmer and also spoke quietly with him.

Kelly said afterward she told Palmer she, too, was opposed to the Community of Sanctuary resolution and she encouraged him to leave because he had already made his point. Palmer continued to insist he would not leave until he was arrested.

Another Ithaca police officer arrived and stood nearby, seemingly awaiting instruction.

After 10 minutes Clairborne, a Navy veteran, Myrick, and Alderman Joel Zumoff, D-3rd, re-entered Council chambers and conferred with Nelson and Ithaca Fire Department Chief Brian Wilbur and Deputy Chief Tom Parsons. Wilbur and Parsons were attending the meeting because Council was scheduled to vote on authorizing a new mobile command vehicle for the police and fire departments.

Clairborne then asked members of the audience to leave the room, directing them to City Hall’s second-floor conference room.

Five minutes later Palmer’s wife, Mimi Palmer, arrived and entered Council chambers, attempting briefly to encourage her husband to leave. He wouldn’t.

She then exited the room, followed by Peterson.

“He wants to be arrested,” Mimi Palmer said, noting that he would be if Peterson pressed charges.

“I don’t want to give him the satisfaction,” Peterson responded.

Mimi Palmer then turned to a police officer and said, “Please arrest him.”

Palmer said her husband is unwell and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Peter Houy waited just outside Council chambers with members of the media. Houy described himself as a friend of Palmer since the 1960s, and said Palmer asked him to attend the meeting with him in case he needed support or a ride. Houy said Palmer did not tell him what he was planning to do, but that he knew it might be “something dramatic.”

Houy said he doesn’t necessarily agree with all of Palmer’s actions or statements, but that he does agree Council should not have passed the Community of Sanctuary resolution.

“It’s not city business,” Houy said. “They’ve overstepped their bounds.”

By 8:15 p.m., Bangs Ambulance personnel arrived and, with Ithaca Police officers, escorted Palmer from the room and aided him into an ambulance.

Mimi Palmer said he had not been arrested and was being taken to the hospital.

In his statement, Palmer said he had personally placed a bomb in the Criminal Court House in New York City as a member of the Weather Underground. He also participated in the 1971 Attica prison uprising.

Palmer said he felt the Vietnam war was immoral because Ho Chi Minh “was, and is, the George Washington of Vietnam.”

He said he “so far support(s) wholeheartedly U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, especially in Iraq.”

God Bless,
The Truth Tracker
Jason R. Bootie

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