The man charged with criminal trespassing after he allegedly refused to leave a Chicago production of “Hamilton” on Saturday was provoked by partisan theater goers riled up by the lecture a cast member in New York gave to Republican Vice President-elect Mike Pence from the stage the day before, the man’s lawyer said Monday.
“My understanding was everything was in response to an unfortunate, biased and partisan audience on the night in question,” said Jonathan D. Feldman, the attorney representing John Palmer, 56, of the downtown Streeterville neighborhood. “It is my understanding that the audience within the production of Hamilton has now been fueled by a fire created by the cast and production” in New York.
Feldman also insisted Palmer was neither intoxicated nor combative inside the PrivateBank Theatre during the incident, which occurred after actors playing Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette sang “Immigrants — we get the job done!”
That’s contrary to social-media postings of audience members, who described a man, now identified as Palmer, ranting loudly before he was removed.
Afterward, video taken by one audience member, Jeff Grider, shows the man swearing and seeming to argue with somebody as security guards had him up against a wall in a vestibule outside the performance area.
Grider confirmed he shot the video, posted on Facebook, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Our side won! Our side won!” Grider recalled the man saying in the theater. “F— anyone who didn’t vote for [President-elect Donald] Trump, you don’t belong here!”
The episode went on for about six minutes before security intervened, Grider said on Facebook. Palmer later was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass for refusing to leave.
Feldman, Palmer’s lawyer, said his client went to the show with family members and was forced to defend himself in the audience.
“It’s my understanding that prior to Mr. Palmer defending himself in the audience, other members of the audience had adequately antagonized and provoked a political viewpoint that was not in defense of our president-elect,” Feldman told reporters during a brief news conference outside a River North health club.
Feldman wouldn’t specifically say how Palmer, who couldn’t be reached for comment, responded to the audience provocation. Feldman described his client a “good family man, a company man.”
Palmer is due in court Jan. 9.
Feldman’s impassioned defense of Palmer came as the feud between Hamilton’s New York cast and Trump continued Monday.
Actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr in the New York version of the musical, told “CBS This Morning” that “there’s nothing to apologize for.” Dixon gave Vice President-elect Mike Pence an onstage earful about equality at the end of Friday’s performance.
Trump has called on the cast to apologize to Pence.
Dixon said “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda had a hand in crafting Dixon’s remarks, although Dixon said he “made some adjustments.”
Dixon said that both Trump and Pence are welcome to come backstage and meet with the cast at any time, adding, “Art is meant to bring people together.”