It happened on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, a short time after President Donald Trump officially greeted strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House – a warm greeting despite Erdogan’s recent suppression of his own people. The Turkish president has just arrived back at his ambassador’s DC home when a mass brawl broke out between Erdogan’s people and those who were protesting him outside of the residence.
In fact, as clearly shown in video clips, Erdogan even watched the event unfold when members of his security force, along with several armed supporters, charged through a DC police line and violently attacked peaceful protesters. The scuffle was brief, but authorities had to struggle to regain order. In the end, 11 people were injured, 9 of which went to the hospital. Among the injured was one police officer and 2 Secret Service agents.
According to Metro Police Chief Peter Newsham, the incident “appeared to be a brutal attack.” His officers arrested two of Erdogan’s security people but they were released soon after.
A State Department official called the violent event an attack on free speech and said, “We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest terms possible.”
Arizona Republican Senator, John McCain condemned the attack and demanded that the Turkish ambassador be asked to leave the country.
So far, however, there has been no condemnation of what occurred, not only on American soil but in Washington DC itself, by the White House. And this is the second time on an Erdogan U.S. visit that his bodyguards have used violence against peaceful protesters. Perhaps the lack of response by Trump and staff shouldn’t be surprising given the President’s well-known admiration for autocratic leaders while ignoring their anti-democratic actions.
But one of the protesters in the most recent violent Erdogan DC event, an American citizen, had no such reluctance. After being thrown to the ground, kicked repeatedly, bloodied and losing a tooth in that conflict, he said, “This is not acceptable. This is America! This is not Turkey.”
Sources for further information
Videos + articles
A violent brawl outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. (ABC News 1:54)
Demonstration at Turkish Embassy in DC Turns Violent (VOA News 1:34)
New footage shows Erdogan watching Washington brawl (CNN.com 55 sec.)