February 10, 2009

Shoe-Throwing Incident at Common Council Meeting Draws Attention to Security in City Hall

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When Robin Palmer ’58 launched a shoe at Mayor Carolyn Peterson last week at a Common Council meeting, he said it was his goal to attract attention to his pro-war position.
Regardless of his objectives, Palmer’s actions — which brought a routine Common Council meeting to a halt for nearly an hour — have garnered regional and even national media attention.
The Ithaca resident said that since last week, phone calls from across the country have been flooding in.
While he said that he’s received a mixed bag of supportive and critical comments, overall he is satisfied with the response.
“I’m happy with the reaction,” he told The Sun yesterday, “I wasn’t on an ego-trip. I was trying to assert my position.”
Since the incident last week, the City of Ithaca has bolstered its security measures at City Hall.
A police office will now be stationed in the first floor lobby area and screen visitors through bag searches and metal detector wanding, the Ithaca Journal reported.
Peterson told the Journal that the shoe-throwing incident was the “catalyst” for implementing the heightened security but the city had already been considering the move. She also said that in addition to the security at the entrance, another police officer would be attending Common Council meetings.
Palmer said that the City’s reaction to the incident is not surprising, and in fact, he hoped that the city would expect them to start searching bags.
Palmer said that throwing his shoes was a symbol of his protest of the Common Council’s resoltuion that called the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “immoral.”
He called the resolution “odious,” “stupid” and “simple-minded.”
“I was making what they would call in the ’60s a ‘guerilla theater statement’ in throwing the shoes at the Mayor,” Palmer said.
Asked whether the charade has produced the intended effect, Palmer said, “absolutely.”
However, he conceded that he would most likely not engage in similar behavior in the future since there is an outstanding order of protection against him.