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Violence Breaks Out As Turkish President Erdogan Speaks In New York

As protesters were forcibly removed from the room where Erdogan was speaking, one of the men being escorted out was punched in the face.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Violence erupted Thursday as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered a speech in New York City.

Erdogan was addressing the the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square when a few members of the audience began yelling at the president. Turkish media present at the event reported that the protesters carried signs that read "You are a terrorist" in English.

The initial protester who interrupted Erdogan is reportedly an American citizen. A video posted on Twitter from the audience shows a man yelling at the president, "You're a terrorist! Get out of my country!"

American former YPG volunteer protests during Turkish dictator speech: "You're a terrorist, get out of my country".

A Periscope of the event posted by the Turkish Journal shows men in black suits pushing through the crowded ballroom toward the protesters as other members of the audience boo and chant the president's name.

As the protesters were forcibly removed from the room, one of the men escorted out was seen being punched in the face and Erdogan could be heard asking the crowd to calm down.

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"My dear brothers, my dear brothers, my dear brothers, I have an important request from you: Don't let three to five impertinent people, three to five hall terrorists ruin our lovely gathering," he said.

"According to US law enforcement officials, at this time it does not appear that Turkish security officials were involved in this incident," a State Department official said.

Reason reported that Erdogan supporters in the crowd initiated the brawl, attacking the protesters before hotel security officers could remove them from the ballroom.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, TASC said that four protesters had been arrested. "The US secret service arrested four YPG supporters for trespass and disturbing the event. President Erdogan calmly and wisely restored order, and the program continued seamlessly and successfully."

In May, 12 people were injured after violence broke out during a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC, following a meeting between Erdogan and US President Donald Trump.

Pro- and anti-Erdogan groups were gathered outside the embassy on May 16 when men in black suits, later identified as Turkish security personnel, were seen attacking protesters. Footage of the violence went viral, particularly a clip that showed the Turkish president watching the brutal fight from the embassy driveway. The State Department condemned the attacks on free speech and US Sens. Dianne Feinstein and John McCain wrote Erdogan a letter expressing "grave concerns" over the events.

Federal indictments have been issued for 15 Turkish security officials for their involvement in the attacks.

In an interview on Tuesday, Erdogan said that Trump had apologized to him for the incident, which the Turkish government has blamed on DC police. "President Trump called me about a week ago about this issue. He said that he was sorry, and he told me that he was going to follow up on this issue when we come to the United States within the framework of an official visit."

The White House denied that any apology had been issued over the embassy violence.

CORRECTION

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.

Alp Ozcelik contributed to this report.

Ellie Hall is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 6055 A264 DADD AADC 347E 5986 547C C11C DD7D 176A.

Contact Ellie Hall at ellie.hall@buzzfeed.com.

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