Violence erupted Thursday as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail appeared to assault protesters as he spoke in New York City.
Erdogan was giving remarks to the Turkish American National Steering Committee at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square when his bodyguards were seen getting into a number of altercations with swarms of protesters.
Once Erdogan took the stage, a protester clearly could be heard screaming, “You’re a terrorist, get out of my country!”
Protesters continued to clash with security guards as they were escorted out of the building. In raw video taken of the altercations, some protesters can be seen being pushed and then punched on their way out. Erdogan temporarily halted his speech as additional bodyguards came to the stage..
See some of the videos from the assaults below:
The incident comes less than one months since 19 Turkish security guards were indicted by a federal grand jury for attacking protesters outside the Turkish Embassy when Erdogan visited to Washington D.C. on May 16.
Fifteen of them were Erdogan’s guards and are accused of conspiring to attack a group of demonstrators, many whom were Armenian or Kurdish, and assaulting law enforcement officers as they tried to control the melee. The attacks occurred in daylight and were captured on witness video. Bodyguards can be seen punching and kicking protesters and officers as a chaotic scuffle ensues.
Erdogan has been protested by Turks largely because of his authoritarian tactics.
“Since (September 2016), around 35,000 officers, soldiers, policemen, judges, prosecutors, teachers and university deans have been detained, fired or suspended as Erdoğan attempts to isolate anyone his government perceives to be a threat,” The Guardian reported.
On July 15, 2016, a military coup was attempted to overthrow Erdogan’s government. It was carried out by a group within the Turkish Armed Forces, known as the Peace at Home Council. The attempt was to gain control of key places in large cities across the country, but the group failed to do so and were defeated by loyal forces.
The coup was attempted due to what the Council describes as an elimination of democratic rule, human rights violations and Turkey’s declining reputation.
According to Turkish National Intelligence Organization’s director Hakan Fidan, the plot was discovered before it took place, causing the group to move ahead with the attempt six hours earlier than envisioned.