Bodyguards for Turkish President Erdogan responded violently to protestors outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C., beating up at least nine people. The State Department, Washington, D.C. police and the U.S. Secret Service are working to identify the bodyguards.
The State Department said that the violence was “in contrast to the First Amendment rights and principles we work tirelessly to protect each and every day.” Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “We are concerned by the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel Tuesday evening. Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest.”
The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department added that “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,” however it was pointed out that the guards might be able to call on diplomatic immunity to evade prosecution.
The Daily Caller reports:
Video footage of the incident shows men wearing suits clashing with a group of about two dozen Armenian and Kurdish protesters who oppose Erdogan, who was in town to visit with President Trump.
Erdogan had just finished his meeting with Trump when the melee ensued. The authoritarian ruler then went to the ambassador’s residence to meet in a closed session with members of the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C. think tank that receives donations from Turkey.
Footage showed that Washington, D.C. police struggled to contain the violence. At least two people were arrested, though it is not clear whether they were supporters or opponents of Erdogan.
The protestors were Armenians and Kurds who oppose Erdogan. Aram Suren Hamparian, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America and witness to the event commented that, “It felt to me, it looked to me like a highly orchestrated attack,”