WASHINGTON (A.W.)—A group of peaceful demonstrators protesting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit to the United States, were attacked by pro-Erdogan groups at the Sheridan Circle near the residence of the Turkish Ambassador to the U.S.
“[This was] 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 Erdogan’s Turkey and in other dictatorships,” said Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian, who captured parts of the attack and streamed the aftermath live on the 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,” he added.
The demonstration, which began at Lafayette Square at noon, was organized by a coalition of organizations, including the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and the American Hellenic Council. Several different groups, which included representatives from the Armenian, Greek, Kurdish, and Assyrian communities, participated in the protest, while President Erdogan met with U.S. President Donald Trump a the White House.
“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-Erdogan [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 the live video moments after the attack. Hamparian went on to explain that the crowd of Erdogan supporters beat as many people as they could and that many were bloodied and had to be taken to the hospital.
“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 said.
The Armenian Weekly will be following this story and provide updates as they become available.