Once again supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have roughed up American protesters on American soil. As Erdogan delivered a speech to supporters in New York City at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square on Thursday, a handful of protesters began holding up signs and yelling anti-Erdogan slogans. Men in black suits immediately rushed the protesters and began violently removing them while the crowd punched and shoved those being carried out.
Video released by Turkish media present at the event clearly shows at least two of the protesters being repeatedly punched in the face by Erdogan supporters as they were taken out of the room. And it appears that Erdogan actually encouraged the violence from the podium, calling the protesters – which included Americans – “terrorists”.
Violence erupts at an Erdogan speech Thursday: After American protesters were beaten by Erdogan supporters, he called the protesters “terrorists” from the podium (see 1:40 mark).
— Amerika’n?n Sesi (@VOATurkish) September 21, 2017
The disruption appears to have started when Lucas Chapman – a young American activist and former YPG volunteer fighter (Kurdish “People’s Protection Units”) – yelled out in the middle of Erdogan’s speech: “Murderer! You’re a terrorist, get out of my 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
Video shows Chapman immediately being shoved to the ground from behind, just before being seized by what appear to be security guards, though it’s not confirmed if any of the guards were part of Erdogan’s presidential security detail. Chapman was punched in the face by an unidentified man wearing a suit before disappearing off camera as he was carried out of the room.
— ANCA (@ANCA_DC) September 21, 2017
Chapman told Zero Hedge that the moment the protest began, he was assaulted by the crowd. “Erdogan’s supporters jumped on me almost immediately, shoving me out of my chair and eventually throwing me to the floor,” he said. “They kicked and punched me repeatedly until the security guards lifted me and dragged me out. As I was being dragged out, Turks leaned into the aisle and continued punching me in the head and stomach.”
Chapman is uncertain whether or not Erdogan’s body guards were directly involved as he says his face was quickly pressed to the floor and was thus unable to see while being beaten in the initial moments of the event. There were seven protesters total in the group and they escaped with only minor injuries.
The ordeal caused Erdogan to pause his speech while the entire room erupted in pandemonium as body guards rushed through the crowd. The Turkish president leaned over to one of his aides in confusion and was visibly angry while glaring out at the audience.
Erdogan protested during his speech in New York. He asks his goon: Who are these?
The goon replies: Americans, sir. pic.twitter.com/84qYmyIlhN
— Gilgo (@agirecudi) September 21, 2017
Another man, carried out after Chapman, was shown on video being viciously assaulted by Erdogan loyalists waiving Turkish flags. Footage shows the man initially on the ground being kicked while what appears to be hotel security attempted to hold the crowd back. The protester was repeatedly punched in the face while being escorted out.
In addition, Erdogan seems to have encouraged the violence in the very moments it was taking place by calling the protesters “terrorists”. Erdogan announced from the podium: “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.”
Video from another angle shows Erdogan’s guards beating up an American protesting him during his speech in New York. pic.twitter.com/ALkeYIfDfC
— Turkey Untold (@TurkeyUntold) September 21, 2017
Referencing a familiar theme, Erdogan’s speech singled out the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Gülen movement as “terrorists” while equating both groups with ISIS. Thursday’s violence follows a major incident last May in which at least 12 people were seriously injured after Erdogan’s personal security detail attacked peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC. Turkey has a history of aggressively cracking down on both protests and journalists, especially in relation to Kurdish issues. US federal indictments have been issued for 15 of the Turkish security officials involved in the May attacks, which occurred on American soil.
Meanwhile, it appears that Erdogan was caught lying about the May incident this week. He claimed in an interview on Monday that Trump personally apologized to him for the violent encounter, which Turkey blames on Kurdish groups and DC police: “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.” However, the White House denied that any apology had been issued over the embassy violence.
On Wednesday the Turkish president shocked an audience at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York when he said that the hundreds of journalists currently imprisoned in Turkey after a recent crackdown on government critics are “not journalists, they’re terrorists.” When asked by Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait why his country has put more journalists in jail than any other nation, Erdogan responded, “The ones who have been sentenced, who have been imprisoned, are not journalists.” He then made the bizarre claim that, “Many have been involved in burglaries and some have been caught red handed as they were trying to empty ATM machines.” And added, “Everyone else seems to think they’re journalists just because they say so.”
Turkey has recently topped the list of countries routinely engaged in Twitter censorship and has over the past years completely blocked social media platforms nation-wide at various times.
All of this causes us to ask: how long before both American leadership and the media begin acknowledging Erdogan for the thuggish tin pot dictator that he truly is? Apparently, he’s no longer content to crackdown on speech in his own country, but now willingly sics his fanatical mob even on Americans exercising free speech on American soil.
* * *