A former member of Weather Underground brought Ithaca’s Common Council meeting to a halt Wednesday night when he threw his shoes at Mayor Carolyn Peterson.
Robert Palmer, a long time resident of Ithaca, threw his shoes in protest of the Council’s position against the “immoral wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the Ithaca Journal, Palmer spoke during the Council’s privilege of the floor, a time during the meeting when any citizen can speak. As he spoke, Palmer handed out packets of information on the U.S.S. Indianapolis, a U.S. Navy vessel that was sunk during World War II. The packets also include the Common Council’s Community of Sanctuary resolution — which asserts Ithaca’s commitment to protect the rights of military personnel to protest 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?”
Dressed in his 1950s-era military uniform, Palmer said he was there to state his opposition to the Community of Sanctuary resolution. Calling the resolution “odious,” Palmer was allowed by Peterson to address the council beyond the three minutes typically granted during the privilege of the floor.
Palmer said that the resolution was an insult to the memory of Robert Carrol Sams, who died on the U.S.S. Indianapolis. Sams was the brother of the late Common Council Alderwoman Diann Sams.
When Peterson told Palmer that his floor time was up, he reached into a bag, pulled out two shoes, and hurled them at Peterson. The shoes fell short of hitting Peterson, and Aldermen Svante Myrick ‘09 (D-4th) and J.R. Clairborne (D-2nd) approached Palmer to halt his actions.
Palmer stopped when Ithaca Police Officer Brad Nelson, the son of Diann Sams, managed to calm him. He then insisted on having his shoes returned to him and refused to leave.
Eventually Palmer was escorted from the room by Bangs Ambulance personnel and Ithaca Police Officers into an ambulance before being taken to a hospital.
According to Palmer’s wife, Mimi, Palmer is suffering from cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy.