A group protesting the United States’ support for Israel’s war in Gaza disrupted Sen. Todd Young’s address Thursday night at an inauguration event for Carmel’s newly elected city officials.
The group of about a half-dozen people held signs and shouted, “murderers,” “cease fire now,” “war criminal” and other chants for about two minutes before police and security officers escorted them from the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts.
Mayor Sue Finkam, City Clerk Jacob Quinn, City Judge Brian Poindexter and the nine members of the Carmel City Council took their oaths of office at the event.
After the protesters began shouting, Young, R-Ind., first attempted to continue his speech before pausing for about 30 seconds. He then gave a thumbs-up sign and began chanting, “Carmel, Carmel, Carmel” before resuming his speech praising Finkam over the shouts of the demonstrators.
“I am confident that our new mayor, our friend, Sue Finkam, is going to find success, too, because Sue Finkam is also a dreamer, and I know that the city of Carmel supports people with big dreams,” Young said as the protesters continued chanting. “Sue has a vision to build on the prosperity we have seen in this city.”
Video of the protest posted online also showed two people holding a sign that said, “Indiana Education, Not Israel’s Occupation.”
After the protesters were removed, Young said, “Did I mention Carmel has amazing police officers? Did I mention Carmel is a civically active community with the wisdom to choose amazing elected officials for their local offices?”
Young, 51, graduated from Carmel High School in 1990. He is serving his second term as a U.S. Senator and was reelected in 2022. He previously served as the U.S. representative for Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, which covers areas of south-central and southeastern Indiana.
The Carmel Police Department did not immediately respond to a question from IBJ about whether any of the protesters were taken into custody or if they were simply escorted out and released.
Since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 Israelis, more than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed as the Israel Defense Forces have conducted air raids throughout the densely populated Gaza Strip.
People calling for an end to the war in Gaza have held protests in U.S. cities around the country since the conflict began.
Young expressed support for Israel in a speech on the Senate floor on Oct. 18.
“As it has since its founding, against alliances of far larger nations and armies, this country–which is four times smaller than Indiana–will defend itself,” Young said in his October speech. “And America will be here for Israel and support its right to confront this violence, this barbarism.”
Finkam succeeded seven-term Mayor Jim Brainard on Jan. 1. Brainard served 28 years and led Carmel’s transformation from a traditional suburb of about 30,000 people to a city of about 100,000 residents.
In her address, Finkam described her vision for Carmel’s future. Finkam, a Republican, served three terms on the Carmel City Council before becoming mayor.
“I stand before you today with a vision for our city that not only shines brightly in terms of excellence and prosperity, but is also a beacon of unity, public safety and transparency, and community collaboration,” Finkam said. “Our goal is nothing short of building the best-run city in America, a city where every resident feels secure, informed and actively contributes to our shared success.”