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Turkish Security Forgot They Were In Washington And Acted Like A Bunch Of Jerks

Journalists being harassed by Turkish security, protestors assailing counter-protestors, Turkish security berating D.C. cops. It was nuts.

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The scene outside a planned speech by Turkish President Recep Erdogan, currently in Washington, D.C. to attend the Nuclear Security Summit, descended into chaos on Thursday.

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Ahead of Erdogan's arrival, protestors began gathering outside of Brookings, holding banners decrying the lack of press freedom's in Turkey, as well as the ongoing fight between the Turkish government and Kurdish nationalists.

It was still an hour before Erdogan was scheduled to arrive when Turkish security began assailing the protestors and the journalists attempting to cover the event alike.

Never seen anything like this:a female protester just tackled. DC cops are in the street trying to keep Turkish guards from hurting folks

One of the journalists Erdogan's security detail harassed was Amberin Zaman, a journalist and scholar with the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Politics.

This Erdogan security detail called me "a pkk whore" For standing in the driveway of @BrookingsInst

Zaman was eventually confronted more directly with some present reporting that the security officers physically pushed her back from the venue.

Here: Erdoğan's bodyguards come at journalist Amberin Zaman in front of Brookings.

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Brian Reeves, a researcher at Brookings, managed to film some of the chaos from a window at the venerable institution.

Inside the event, Turkish security tried to remove several journalists from scene before Brookings' own security intervened.

Here: Turkish security tries to kick a journalist out. Brookings security protects the journalist. Moments ago

Erdogan's security did manage to forcibly remove at least one Turkish journalist, Adem Yavuz Arslan.

Erdogan's detail kick out critical Turkish journo @ademyavuza out of @BrookingsInst This is happening in Washington!

By the time BuzzFeed News was able to reach the event, no further members of the press were being allowed into the building.

Breaking bad at Erdogan Brookings event today...heavy police presence, press not allowed into event at this point

A surge in D.C. police presence managed to separate the anti-Erdogan protestors from his supporters. But, Foreign Policy reports, Turkish security clashed with D.C. police, angered that the officers wouldn't remove the protestors.

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The chaos continued in the form of occasional scuffles, such as this incident where a pro-Erdogan woman was punched as she was crossing the street.

Punches being thrown as a pro-Erdogan protester crosses the street

Thomas Burr, president of the DC-based National Press Club, released a statement slamming the president and his security guards, who referred to as "guests in the United States."

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

“They have no right to lay their hands on reporters or protesters or anyone else for that matter, when the people they were apparently roughing up seemed to be merely doing their jobs or exercising the rights they have in this country," he said.

“We have increasingly seen disrespect for basic human rights and press freedom in Turkey,” Burr added. “Erdogan doesn’t get to export such abuse.”

Amnesty International, whose staffers alongside volunteers participated in the protest, also issued a statement condemning the Turkish security officer's actions.

Ali Watkins / BuzzFeed News

"Today’s confrontation in Washington vividly illustrates how little Turkey’s government values human rights such as freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. Those who were present at today’s protest saw firsthand the consequences of governments that violate human rights,” said T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for Europe.

Erdogan's trip had already drawn controversy before today. On Wednesday, his security detail attempted to literally yell loud enough to drown out protestors. This video went viral in Turkey, with clever internet users remixing the footage.

View this video on YouTube

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Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

Ali Watkins is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Ali Watkins at ali.watkins@buzzfeed.com.

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