Just days after a brutal fight outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC, that left at least a dozen people injured, video footage has surfaced showing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calmly watching the violence near his car.
The video showing Tuesday's fight and was published Thursday by Voice of America Turkish. In it, Erdogan can be seen stepping out of a black Mercedes and watching as Turkish security personnel violently confront protesters just a few yards away. Erdogan watches the violence for several moments before entering the Turkish embassy.
The fight ultimately left 12 people injured and led to two arrests. The State Department confirmed that Turkish security personnel were involved in the altercation, which erupted after Erdogan met with President Trump at the White House.
Both pro- and anti-Erdogan groups had gathered outside the embassy Tuesday. Video shot during the melee showed at least one person getting kicked in the head as police scrambled to subdue the crowd.
After the fighting, Ceren Borazan, 26, told BuzzFeed News that one of Erdogan's bodyguards held her neck and threatened to kill her during the clash.
In a statement, the Turkish embassy blamed the fighting on demonstrators who "began aggressively provoking" Turkish-American citizens who had assembled to greet Erdogan.
However, the State Department said "violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest."
Senators Diane Feinstein and John McCain also expressed their "grave concern" over the incident in a letter to Erdogan.
"The violent response of your security detail to peaceful protestors is wholly unacceptable and, unfortunately, reflective of your government’s treatment of the press, ethnic minority groups and political opponents," the senators wrote.
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.