WASHINGTON—A demonstration staged to protest Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit to the United States turned bloody when a pro-Erdogan group attacked demonstrators at Sheridan Circle near the residence of the Turkish Ambassador to the U.S.
The demonstration began at Lafayette Square at noon, when Erdogan was meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House.
The protest was organized by a coalition of organizations, including the Armenian National Committee of America and the American Hellenic Council. Several different groups participated in the protest including representatives from the Armenian, Greek, Kurdish, and Assyrian communities.
“[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 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.
Following the White House meeting, Erdogan met with a group of US businessmen at the Turkish Ambassador’s residence across from Sheridan Circle, where another group of protesters were gathered. The pro-Erdogan group broke through the police line, stormed the circle and began beating the demonstrators gathered at the circle.
At least three people were taken to the hospital after suffering injuries. Police arrested several people in relation with the attacks.
“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 the explain that the crowd of Erdogan supporters bear 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.
This is a developing story. Asbarez will update readers as details unfold.