Washington DC had an unexpectedly chaotic May 16th, as non-violent protestors rallied together against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to The States. However, outside the Sheridan Circle (close to the US’s Turkish ambassador’s home), Erdoğan supporters lashed out and incited violence in an effort to shut them down—even the Turkish president’s security detail jumped in…
Many attested to witnessing nine people being rolled away for medical treatment—two arrests upon the brutal instance.
“[This is] the type of violence you would never expect to see in America’s capital. It was the type of violence you’d expect to see in Erdoğan’s Turkey and in other dictatorships,” Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian said, who recorded and streamed the violence on ANCA’s Facebook page. “This is the very type of intolerance that has come to predominate in Turkey, and it has now been exported here,” Hamparian explained.
[Footage: courtesy of ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian]
It was noon when Lafayette Square hosted the initial anti-Erdoğan rally. Multiple organizations assembled this effort—such as ANCA and the American Hellenic Council. Subgroups included members of the Greek, Yezidi, American and Assyrian communities. As President Erdoğan and President Trump had their White House-based conference, a surplus of protestors stood at The Square.
In light of the bovver, the US State Department, DC police and the US Secret Service are collaborating to accurately decipher the specific Erdoğan-security detail who took part in the violence. “We will continue to work with our partners at the United States State Department and United States Secret Service to identify and hold all subjects accountable for their involvement in the altercation,” DC Metropolitan Police Department availed in a statement.
“I saw a group of peaceful protesters in Sheridan Circle (a grassy area across from the Turkish Ambassador’s residence) who were protesting and exercising their constitutional right to speak their minds, to hold signs, to share their opinions and express their views, get rushed from across the street by a group of a pro-Erdoğan [demonstrators], who broke through the police lines and attacked literally anybody within their reach with their fists and anything else they could get a hold of,” Hamparian said in his recording efforts. He added that pro-Erdoğan folks used brute force unsparingly to ultimately severely bloody multiple people, who were eventually given medical attention.
[Footage: courtesy of grassroots-collective Baltimore Bloc]
“This is exactly the type of violence you see in Ankara and they are exporting it here. It’s one thing for the Turkish government to do that to its own citizens—[which is] a terrible thing. It is another thing for us, as Americans, to see that exported to the United States,” Hamparian stressed.
In further efforts to quell what happened, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser released a May 17th statement: “What we saw yesterday—a violent attack on a peaceful demonstration—is an affront to DC values and our rights as Americans. I strongly condemn these actions and have been briefed by Chief Newsham on our response. The Metropolitan Police Department will continue investigating the incident and will work with federal partners to ensure justice is served.”
[Footage: courtesy of Voice of America]
At a May 17th press meeting, DC Police Chief Peter Newsham weighed in with the riot being a “brutal attack on peaceful protesters.”
Former-United Nations US Ambassador Samantha Power chimed in on Twitter:
Clearly Erdogan’s guards feel complete impunity, drawing on tools of repression they use at home & knowing he has their back,no matter what https://t.co/jq1tFHwv35
— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) May 17, 2017
[Source: Twitter/Samantha Power]
— Turkey Observed (@TurkeyObserved) May 17, 2017