A stalwart ally

Last night in DC:

WASHINGTON — Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, including his government security forces and several armed individuals, violently charged a group of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence here on Tuesday night in what the police characterized as “a brutal attack.”

Eleven people were injured, including a police officer, and nine were taken to a hospital, the Metropolitan Police chief, Peter Newsham, said at a news conference on Wednesday. Two Secret Service agents were also assaulted in the melee, according to a federal law enforcement official.

The State Department rebuked Turkey.

Photos and videos posted on social media by witnesses showed a chaotic scene of flying fists, feet and police batons — all in the middle of rush hour traffic along stately Embassy Row. The video showed two men bleeding from the head and men in dark suits punching and kicking protesters, some lying on the ground.

Erdogan is the guy Trump congratulated recently when he won a referendum granting him new authoritarian powers.

The confrontation came after President Trump welcomed Mr. Erdogan to the White House on Tuesday and praised him as a stalwart ally in the battle against Islamic extremism. Mr. Trump did not speak of Mr. Erdogan’s authoritarian crackdown on his own people.

The White House has thus far been silent on the episode. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, referred reporters to the State Department and declined to comment further.

So we’ll conclude that Trump & Co like that sort of thing.

The episode was not the first time that Turkish security forces have ignited violence in the American capital. The police and members of Mr. Erdogan’s security team clashed with demonstrators last year outside the Brookings Institution, where Mr. Erdogan was giving a speech. Brookings wrote on its website that his bodyguards had “behaved unacceptably — they roughed up protesters outside the building and tried to drag away ‘undesired’ journalists, an approach typical of the Russians or Chinese.”

Aram Hamparian, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, who posted a video of Tuesday’s clash on his organization’s Facebook page, said that when Mr. Erdogan and his entourage arrived at the ambassador’s residence around 4 p.m., the president’s supporters gathered and rushed across the street and into the park where the protest was taking place.

Several of the protesters said they were caught off-guard when the group rushed through the police and into their ranks, which included some small children. All nine demonstrators who were hospitalized have since been released, but Mr. Hamparian said many left with stitches.

And the White House people couldn’t bring themselves to say that’s not cool.

Lucy Usoyan of Arlington, Va. was among them. Ethnically Yazidi and raised in Armenia before moving to the United States, she said she had expected a mostly quiet afternoon expressing her displeasure at Mr. Erdogan’s government.

Instead, she said, she ended up knocked to the ground and kicked until she was briefly unconscious.

“When I opened my eyes I saw people all around,” said Ms. Usoyan, 34. “Some were bleeding, and I could not get up.”

Sayid Reza Yasa, one of the organizers of the demonstration, said he lost at least one tooth and his nose was bloodied as he was knocked to the ground and kicked repeatedly before the police intervened.

Mr. Yasa, 60, an American citizen who was born in Turkey and is of Kurdish descent, said he was familiar with the brutality of Mr. Erdogan’s forces, but surprised by their audacity on Tuesday.

“This is not acceptable,” Mr. Yasa said. “This is America. This is not Turkey.”


9 Responses to “A stalwart ally”