By Vince Gerasole

(CBS) — Was it politics or people who just wanted quiet in the theater?

A Streeterville man was arrested and charged with misdemeanor trespass, surrounded by patrons who purchased the hottest ticket in town.

Jeff Grider was in the audience when the incident occurred. He talks with CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports.

Not all the drama was on stage during a weekend performance of “Hamilton” in Chicago. The removal of one audience member followed a heckling incident with political overtones at Saturday’s performance of the blockbuster.

“Several patrons who had already exited were visibly shaken and upset — some were crying,” says Grider, who captured the audience member’s ejection on video.

Grider says the incident seemed to ignite after performers sang an iconic “Hamilton” line, that “immigrants, we get the job done.”


Grider says the audience cheered, but one man reacted differently, shouting obscenities.

“He specifically said, ‘If you didn’t vote for Trump you don’t belong here,” Grider says.

The play went on, but Grider says the man continued to argue with shushing patrons and security.

“People just wanted to start to watch the show,” Grider says.

Police identify the man as 56-year-old John Palmer, who lives in Streeterville.

His attorney offers a different side and says other audience members are at fault.

“There was provocation in the audience,” says Jonathan Feldman.

At Friday’s New York performance of “Hamilton,” a cast member read a prepared statement expressing political frustration and concerns to Vice-President Elect Mike Pence, who was in the audience. Some minority communities fear President-Elect Donald Trump and some of his campaign rhetoric.

“The audience has now been fueled by a fire created by the cast and production,” Feldman says.

The show’s producers here and in New York have no comment on the incident.

Records show Palmer has had some minor skirmishes with the law before. He’s due in court in January.

Vince Gerasole