Months after a mob of Turkish security officials beat up a handful of protesters in full view of both Washington D.C.’s police and authoritarian Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, another group of protesters was assaulted at a Midtown Manhattan hotel during a speech by Erdogan on Thursday afternoon.
Video shows a young man standing up and disrupting Erdogan’s speech, yelling “You’re a terrorist! Get out of our country!”
American former YPG volunteer protests during Turkish dictator speech: "You're a terrorist, get out of my country". pic.twitter.com/lHwTBn1426
— Afarin Mamosta (@AfarinMamosta) September 21, 2017
Another video shows a group of men in blazers dragging the young man out, while he is punched in the face by at least two different men.
— Amerika'nın Sesi (@VOATurkish) September 21, 2017
A few minutes later, at the 3:45 mark in this video, another man can be heard shouting “terrorist.”
YPG and YPG supporters protest Turkish president Erdogan in NYC pic.twitter.com/N4LMpvhbl0
— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) September 21, 2017
Another angle shows a taller man being beaten and dragged down to the ground.
Erdoğan'ın konuşmasında eylem yapanlara izleyiciler yumruklarla müdahale etti. Yumruk atanlara ise salondaki özel güvenlik ekipleri pic.twitter.com/BbXtN3HUXB
— Razi Canikligil (@canikligil) September 21, 2017
According to BuzzFeed, Erdogan, who is in town for the United Nations’ General Assembly, told the crowd, “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."
After last year’s failed coup, Erdogan has initiated a crackdown that has purged hundreds of thousands of people from the government, and imprisoned tens of thousands of others. According to a March report released by the UN High Commissioner, Turkey’s Kurdish minorities have suffered human rights violations at the hands of the Turkish soldiers.
The Times reports that the young man in the video was wearing a shirt with a picture of Michael Israel on it. Israel was an American killed in a Turkish airstrike while fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria.
The organization that sponsored Erdogan’s speech, the Turkish National Steering Committee, told BuzzFeed that “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."
A Secret Service spokesperson referred us to the NYPD, who told us that they have no record of any arrests.
The Times reports that five protesters were “briefly detained,” and that no injuries were reported or arrests were made:
“It appears that it started when pro and anti demonstrators kind of clashed, and it started a little bit of a physical confrontation,” Stephen P. Davis, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said. “But at that point, the people were separated and broken out and brought out of the venue.”
In an email, a spokesperson for the State Department told us, “According to U.S. law enforcement officials, at this time it does not appear that Turkish security officials were involved in this incident.”
At least fifteen Turkish security officials were indicted for the brawl in May. Two of them were arrested but the rest remain at large.
"Rarely in my 28 years of policing have I seen what happened in Sheridan Circle," D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said at a press conference in June. "You had peaceful demonstrators that were physically assaulted in the District of Columbia."
Earlier this week, Erdogan claimed that Trump had apologized to him for what happened in May (though the White House press office denied this). "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."
On Thursday, Trump met with Erdogan and publicly praised him, saying, "He’s running a very difficult part of the world. He’s involved very, very strongly and, frankly, he’s getting very high marks."