The U.S. State Department has confirmed that Turkish security personnel were involved in Tuesday’s violent altercation with protesters outside of Turkish diplomatic offices in Washington D.C.
The United States is "concerned by the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel," the State Department said in a statement released Wednesday. "Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest.”
“We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,” added the administration.
According to State Department officials, the men filmed attacking protesters are members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s personal security entourage as well as employees of the Turkish embassy.
Nine people were injured when Turkish security personnel punched and kicked protesters waving Kurdish flags.
“All of the sudden they just ran towards us,” a Yazidi Kurdish protestor named Lucy Usoyan told ABC News. “Someone was beating me in the head nonstop, and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m on the ground already, what is the purpose to beat me?’”
Watch as armed Turkish security forces beat down demonstrators on American soil:
A demonstration outside the Turkish Embassy in northwest Washington led to nine people being injured, and two arrested pic.twitter.com/6SQTlQAUaa— The Voice of America (@VOANews) May 17, 2017
Two people were ultimately arrested. However, D.C. police appeared outnumbered as they were unable to control the violence.
Here’s a statement by the D.C. police regarding the incident. The statement pledges to “pursue charges against…individuals involved.”
MPD Statement regarding incident outside Turkish Embassy yesterday pic.twitter.com/ELRi0szlrA— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) May 17, 2017
The altercation occurred outside the residence of the Turkish ambassador on the same day that the increasingly-autocratic Turkish president met with President Trump. According to NBC News, Erdogan was inside the building at the time of the brawl. After months of violent repression at home, Erdogan appears to have brought his draconian tendencies with him to the United States.
Making a mockery of diplomatic immunity, Turkish security forces, donning black suits and wearing earpieces, were seen emerging from the ambassador’s residence to violently confront protesters before retreating back to the safe haven of residence grounds where U.S. law enforcement, including federal and local agencies, were prohibited from entering.
This was an incursion of American sovereignty by the Erdogan regime. Makes USA look weak. Would be #1 story if not for Comey/Russia. https://t.co/du4adTEeI2— James Hohmann (@jameshohmann) May 17, 2017
Shockingly, this isn't the first time Erdogan's bodyguards have attacked protesters. At a Brookings Institution event last year featuring Erdogan as a keynote speaker, the Turkish president's security detail assaulted both protesters and journalists mercilessly. Here's what Brookings said at the time:
Erdoğan’s security detail behaved unacceptably—they roughed up protesters outside the building and tried to drag away “undesired” journalists, an approach typical of the Russians or Chinese. Brookings extended its hospitality to Erdoğan, and because he was an invited guest went to considerable lengths to accommodate his massive entourage and treat him with respect. But his security detail abused Brookings’s hospitality. They picked fist fights with demonstrators and attempted to evict Turkish journalists. Brookings staff, including the President Strobe Talbott, had to escort the journalists back into the building. At one point, according to one eye-witness, Talbott had to threaten to cancel the event if they did not desist with their thuggish behavior. Unfortunately, Erdoğan’s visit to Brookings and the capital of the world’s leading democracy will be remembered more for these incidents than for the talk itself.
Whether at home or abroad, the Erdogon entourage appears to respond with visceral rage at the sight of Kurdish demonstrators.
The Kurds are public enemy number one for the Erdogan regime. In Turkey, Erdogan and his AKP allies have arrested scores of Kurdish politicians and activists in what can only be described as a purge. But Erdogan’s purge campaign doesn’t stop with the Kurds. Since last summer’s failed military coup, the Turkish president has grown paranoid, consolidating totalitarian power accordingly. Tens of thousands of civil servants, military officers, judges, prosecutors, policemen and professors have been detained on trumped-up charges in the last few months, leaving the United States and European allies to question Turkey’s precarious position in NATO.