Protester crashes Turner inauguration

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U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (l.) thanks Ira Saftlas of Brooklyn. Photo by Christina Santucci
Kings County Supreme Court Judge John Ingram (r.) swears in U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (l.), as Turner's wife Peg holds the Bible. Photo by Rebecca Henely
Former Mayor Ed Koch (l.) joins U.S. Rep Bob Turner and his wife Peg for the ceremony. Photo by Christina Santucci
Kings County Supreme Court Judge John Ingram (r.) swears in U.S. Rep. Bob Turner. Photo by Rebecca Henely
Adam Weissman continues to protest after he was thrown out. Photo by Christina Santucci
Kevin Hiltunen hauled out a heckler from the event. Photo by Christina Santucci

Despite a disruption from a small protest, U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Kew Gardens) was inaugurated Sunday at Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills before an enthusiastic crowd. The first Republican congressman to represent the district since 1923 received support from Republicans and Democrats at the ceremony.

“We are here today because Bob Turner stood up for what was right,” said Rep. Peter King (R-Massapequa Park), who acted as master of ceremonies for the inauguration.

About 150 people attended the event at the 91-30 Metropolitan Ave. schools in Forest Hills. Turner’s wife Peggy held the Bible as he was ceremonially sworn in by Kings County Supreme Court Judge John Ingram.

But the swearing-in did not go completely as planned when Astoria resident Adam Weissman, 33, yelled out a criticism of Turner during the oath and was escorted out.

Weissman said he was a part of TradeJustice, a collective of various organizations against free trade. The protest, which included two other people, was sponsored by the protest group Occupy Wall Street and targeted Turner’s yea vote on a free trade agreement with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. President Barack Obama signed the bill last month. Weissman said the law would outsource hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

“I was trying to say that Bob Turner, after two months in office, has already sold out the voters of Queens and Brooklyn,” Weissman said.

The interruption did not faze Turner, who received a standing ovation. After being sworn in, Turner said the country was off-track because of a drift in foreign policy, out-of-control spending and regulatory organizations that he claimed hindered business development.

“People are waking up as you’ve woken up,” Turner told the crowd. “Things are wrong.”

He also characterized Occupy Wall Street as being on “the wrong track” and said America’s capitalist system leaves people free to work and keep their profits.

“America has been a beacon to the world,” Turner said.

Turner’s win over state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) in the special election for the 9th District seat, which opened after former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned amid a sexting Twitter scandal, was seen as an upset for the largely Democratic district. His coverage area winds through Queens and Brooklyn, including the neighborhoods of Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Howard Beach, Glendale, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Rockaway Beach and Woodhaven.

Former Democratic Mayor Ed Koch, whose endorsement of Turner was a great factor in him getting elected, said that while he has known Turner a short time, they have become good friends.

“I look forward to participating in his next election,” Koch said.

While Turner was joined for his inauguration by City Councilmen Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), Turner’s Democratic colleagues also attended the inauguration, including state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach).

Addabbo, who supported Weprin in the special election, said he was happy for Turner and dedicated to working with him to serve their constituents.

“People benefit when elected officials work together and that’s the oath we took,” Addabbo said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 1:41 am, November 17, 2011
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