Glendale Armenians Should Teach a Lesson to Americana at Brand Executives

Americana at Brand has rejected an ad for an Armenian Genocide -themed documentary
Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

Three years ago, on the eve of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, Americana shopping mall officials in Glendale, illegally and in an arrogant manner, banned the sale of Armenian Genocide-related T-shirts by three young Armenians who had signed a contract, disclosed their merchandise in advance, and paid the rent for a cart on the property.

Afterwards, ominously, Doris Nesheiwat, Senior Director of Specialty Leasing at Americana, in an email, warned the young Armenians: “Anything genocide themed, sweat shirts, t-shirts, phone covers and anything that has a genocide theme needs to come off the cart completely please.”

After I exposed Americana’s scandalous and unwarranted behavior in a column, and complaints from the local Armenian community, Americana issued a half-hearted apology by describing the ugly incident as a “misunderstanding,” and allowed the young Armenians to sell their T-shirts.

The Armenian community which numbers close to 100,000 — half of Glendale’s population — and a big portion of Americana’s shoppers, needs to know in a definitive way what is causing Americana executives to repeatedly take positions against publicizing the Armenian Genocide. Being smart businessmen, they must realize that it is counter-productive to antagonize the majority of their customers by taking offensive positions on the Armenian Genocide.

In recent weeks, Americana executives once again took a hostile position by refusing to provide advertising space on their billboard for an Armenian Genocide documentary, “Architects of Denial,” produced by Hollywood celebrities Dean Cain and Montel Williams.

Americana at Brand has rejected an ad for an Armenian Genocide -themed documentary

Americana at Brand has rejected an ad for an Armenian Genocide -themed documentary

This time again, Americana officials came up with a nonsensical and offensive reason for rejecting the paid ad. Americana’s outdoor media agency, Outfront Media, told the documentary producers that Americana executives feel, without having seen the documentary, it is “too political.” This is outrageous! A documentary on the Armenian Genocide cannot be labelled as “too political.” This is a human rights issue which has nothing to do with politics!

When I learned that Julie Jauregui, Americana’s General Manager, was the one who used the term “too political” in rejecting the ad, I called her asking for an explanation. In response, I received an e-mail from Emily Davis, responsible for Americana’s Public Relations and Communications, stating: “We have strict standards for our advertisements and we carefully review all content. This did not comply with the advertising guidelines for our portfolio properties throughout Southern California.”

This carefully crafted statement is completely meaningless! Thus, I wrote back to Emily Davis, wondering how could the advertising for this documentary “not comply” with Americana’s “strict standards for advertisements,” when in fact, Americana’s executives had neither seen the documentary nor the text of the billboard ad before rejecting it. The only information Americana officials knew was that this ad was for an Armenian Genocide documentary. I asked Davis if she implied that the topic of the Armenian Genocide itself violates Americana’s “strict standards for advertisement.” After mulling over her reply for three days and consulting her senior colleagues, Davis responded that they are sticking to their previous answer!

Reaching a dead-end with Americana, I had no choice but to take the matter to the Glendale City Council last week, where four of the five Council members are Armenians. This fact alone, well-known to Americana executives, was another serious miscalculation by them, since they are legally obligated to adhere to scores of agreements they have signed with the City in return for generous subsidies and lavishly advantageous lease considerations. Any deviation from these legal obligations could force the City to take decisive action against Americana to enforce the signed agreements.

In my public remarks to the City Council, I urged the City to arrange a meeting with Americana executives and local Armenian community leaders to resolve this issue. Otherwise, the community would have no choice but to resort to protests and boycotts. Joining me in addressing the City Council was Margarita Baghdasaryan, Community Outreach Director, the Armenian National Committee of America, Glendale Chapter.

The City Council members were naturally sympathetic to our presentations and promised to intervene by arranging a meeting with Americana executives. The purpose of the meeting is not only to straighten out this latest wrong-headed decision, but get to the bottom of what is behind the repeated rejections of Armenian Genocide materials by Americana officials. We need to settle this issue once and for all! We cannot continue to deal with genocide-related objections raised by Americana periodically. We need to know what is the root cause of this repeated insensitive and insulting behavior of Americana officials. If they continue to take a hostile position on the Armenian Genocide issue, maybe hitting them in the pocket book through protests and boycotts, as well as City Council enforcement, would bring Americana executives to their senses!

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30 Comments

  1. Edward Demiraiakian said:

    JUST START DISSASSEMBLING THE BILLBOARDS. After a few fall down, they’ll have to post guards. They will go bankrupt if they do. Obviously, there are sinister, anti Armenian forces behind that decision. Take a page out of the ANTIFA protests, and learn. They are against American ideals, violent, and basically untouchable. Violence works. Americana needs to be brought down hard. So hard that they have to disband and go bankrupt. Forever. It should serve as a lesson to all other companies and politicians that siding with the Genocyde niers is committing and perpatuating Genocyde. STOP being victims. Turn on the victimizers. Picket their Office, picket their private residences, picket the residences and businesses of all their directors, investors, even their cleaning lady house. Tose muther——-s skewered our children and we are to timidly take this?

  2. sonia smolensky said:

    boycott shopping and dinning at Americana, also Armenian condo owners should sell their condo and move to better building.

    • hye said:

      From what I know I think Caruso doesn’t own condos(rental or sales), I think it’s owned by Canadian firm.

  3. State of Emergency said:

    Can’t doing anything without economical and political clout. The only way to change the course is to unite and work for a common goal. Without unity we are simply game to divide and conquer schemes. If history is any guide, we aid and abet these schemes very well.

  4. Peter M. said:

    Harut Sassounian’s always-refreshing, common-sense boldness should not surprise me, but sometimes it does. He has clearly defined this issue and has taken steps himself. It’s the action and the type of action that impresses me. There is something to be said for the wisdom of a well-educated, experienced activist journalist in the Armenian Community. I have been following his work since the 1980s. He remains one of a kind. I look forward to seeing how this issue develops.

  5. Edward Demiraiakian said:

    JUST START DISSASSEMBLING THE BILLBOARDS. After a few fall down, they’ll have to post guards. They will go bankrupt if they do. Obviously, there are sinister, anti Armenian forces behind that decision. Take a page out of the ANTIFA protests, and learn. They are against American ideals, violent, and basically untouchable. Violence works. Americana needs to be brought down hard. So hard that they have to disband and go bankrupt. Forever. It should serve as a lesson to all other companies and politicians that siding with the Genocy deniers is committing and perpatuating Genocyde. STOP being victims. Turn on the victimizers. Picket their Office, picket their private residences, picket the residences and businesses of all their directors, investors, even their cleaning lady house. Tose muther——-s skewered our children and we are to timidly take this?

    • susan roberts said:

      Mr. Demiraiakian – what a ridiculous response. You are advocating theft, property damage/destruction and violence over something like this? You want the biggest source of income in the city to go out of business? Really? The Americana has caused new, popular businesses to come to Glendale, has contributed to our property values going up and has brought money in the form of shoppers to our city. In a city filled with Armenians, I believe that your community can come up with a better form of resistance than what you’ve suggested. You are part of the problem, not the solution.

      • Edward Demiraiakian said:

        Absolutely. I did not advocate theft, I advocated mayhem. My aunt, a young woman was tied to a hitching post and raped repeatedly by soldiers marching by. She survived somehow, but wore a veil for the rest of her life and never looked at another man again.
        When that happens to your family, lets see what your opinion will be then.
        We will never forgive and never forget. Five hundred years from now, we will still be struggling. Shame on you for your insensitivity.

  6. Raffi said:

    The answer is simple: If Americana continues to advocate such anti-Armenian stances then the entire Armenian community must join together and boycott that shopping center. Moreover, we need to step up the pressure with round the clock protests at the site notifying customers of their anti-Armenian positions and the notion that the Armenian genocide is ‘too political’. If the Armenian genocide is ‘too political’ for a local business in the most Armenian-populated city in America, imagine what sort of reaction the issue may bring with other private entities in communities with less of an Armenian footprint.

    • hye said:

      I’ve been boycotting stores at Americana for last 2-3 years, I park at Exchange, get my coffee from Starbucks and walk to Americana. I take my family to Pasadena Cheesecake factory.

  7. hye said:

    did Caruso contribute to any of council members election fundraising? If he did, then money talks and those 4 Armenians that you mentioned won’t do anything. Nzhdeh said this: LAV HYE ELALU HAMAR PETQE LAV MART ELLAL.

  8. Rob said:

    Mr. Sassounian, this article is just off base. The Americana is a place for escapism. The philosophy would be for people to go there after a hard days of work day or work week in a clean, safe an pleasant environment to dine and shop. Last thing they want is for you to go there and think about the Armenian Genocide, Nuclear war, abortion or death penalty. This has nothing to do with the genocide. As an exercise, why don’t you try to sell posters and shirts that either advocate or denounce abortion or the death penalty at Americana. Better yet try it at Disneyland or even Downtown Disney . It is not a venue for that. That is a place to disconnect and enjoy your day/night. You are doing a great disservice by involving the city council because you do not understand the issue. And he’s, I am Armenian and the last thing I want when I go there is to think about the genocide or nuclear war or abortion or the death penalty.

    • hye said:

      Rob, do you get paid to make a comment? No one asked you whether you are Armenian or not. But if you are an Armenian, I would suggest you read Armenian history.

    • State of Emergency said:

      You make perfect sense. We can boycott and protest but can’t force them. They must respect us but are at the same time free to create the ambiance and atmosphere that best fits their business model and image. Getting the city involved is futile. Laissez affair is one of the primary tenet of capitalism.

    • Raffi said:

      I don’t agree with you, Genocide comes first, for an Armenian it is a small sacrifice on behalf of the cause.

  9. Masis said:

    Armenicana just a block away would be the answer. It would be an Armenian themed plaza with Armenian restaurants, Armenian coffee shop, Armenian library, Kebab place. It would span 1-2 blocks. If the name is a problem, call it “The Gendrone.” Then we. Pull out up whatever sign we wanted as the enter board would be Armenians. I think there are enough Armenian. businessman to pull this off.

    My grandfather would say: Long live my enemy, who makes me strive harder each day.

  10. hye said:

    Are you saying that Caruso’s centers never showed any movies in regards to Holocast

  11. Armen Harutunian said:

    Time has long come for the Armenian community to actually organize and flex its economic muscle in our area. We represent numbers that can easily make or break any local large or small business be it a major bank, any restaurant, a car dealership, a particular department store or an entire mall like the Americana at Brand and on and on. Mr. Harut Sassounian has been a champion of all things Armenian for decades now and my hat is off to you. Thanks Harut.

  12. Vic said:

    Let’s erect a small but permanent Genocide Monument right in the center of the park inside Americana. After all, the park belongs to the City of Glendale, not Americana Affiliated. I’m sure all 4 Armenian Council members will vote for it!!!

  13. Laura Agnerian said:

    As mentioned above, any mall or shopping center is a public place for all , with a variety of religious and political backgrounds.. and looking at this matter from another point of view’ what if next week, the Turks wanted to advertise or sell their propaganda of some sort against us, so to be fair and equal, and not to discriminate, the managent has to accept their request too ….then that will start an endless battle of different groups with their causes to want the use of their property …. surely managements have come up with their rules and regulations to avoid any provocations in the workplace and stay neutral …

    • Raffi said:

      I’m sure had a Jewish association tried to use the space for the holocaust, they wouldn’t have dared refusing.

  14. Rob said:

    Mr. Sassounian, this article is just off base. The Americana is a place for escapism. The philosophy would be for people to go there after a hard days of work day or work week in a clean, safe an pleasant environment to dine and shop. Last thing they want is for you to go there and think about the Armenian Genocide, Nuclear war, abortion or death penalty.

  15. Tatevik said:

    Why not organize something along the lines of ” all Armenians stop going to Americana ” within a week they will be at a tremendous loss…

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