Violence broke out during a speech by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York Thursday as protestors clashed with Erdogan’s supporters. According to some footage of the incident, it appears that Erdogan’s security detail became involved and punched the protestors that they were escorting out. The New York Times showed Voice of America footage of the protestors being attacked by attendees as well.
1. Yet again, Erdogan's security detail beats up American protesters. It appears he has given the orders directly pic.twitter.com/TofzV9vi9v— Yashar Ali ?? (@yashar) September 21, 2017
3. All in NYC...another angle, Erdogan's bodyguards beating up American protesters. pic.twitter.com/72RgFZDOJS— Yashar Ali ?? (@yashar) September 21, 2017
During Erdogan’s speech, a protester screamed at Erdogan: “You’re a terrorist. Get out of my country!” Attendees then began chanting Erdogan’s name to drown out the protestors and hitting the protestors as they were escorted out.
Halil Demir, a Turkish-American who was present during the incident, told The New York Times that “three protesters stood up in rapid succession: a young man, a young woman and a middle-aged man.”
Demir said the young man was pulled out of the room and the woman left on her own after being told to do so, but he saw security guards push the middle-aged man, who fell to the ground.
He added that he didn’t know if the guards were part of Erdogan’s security team, the United States Secret Service or the hotel’s security team.
“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 commented. “But at that point, the people were separated and broken out and brought out of the venue.”
He cautioned that they are still in the preliminary stages of investigating what occurred.
Erdogan’s security detail has a history of attacking protestors on U.S. soil, including fighting with U.N. security personnel in 2011 and most recently an incident in May in which his bodyguards were caught on video attacking protesters outside the Turkish Embassy in D.C.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution condemning the violence and 15 members of the security detail now face charges.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) sent Secretary of State Rex Tillerson a letter, ahead of the United Nations General Assembly on September 12th , asking that he “take steps to ensure” that there is not another violent incident involving Turkish Security on U.S. soil.
"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 told Buzzfeed of Thursday’s incident.
Erdogan claimed in a PBS interview released Tuesday that Trump had called him and apologized about the incident in May. However, a White House official told reporters that Trump did not apologize.
"They discussed a wide range of issues but there was no apology," the official told CNBC.
President Trump has not commented on Thursday's incident but appeared to have high praise for Erdogan, meeting with him later that day. “He’s running a very difficult part of the world. He’s involved very, very strongly and, frankly, he’s getting very high marks,” Trump said.