Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the re-opening of the Ottoman-era Yildiz Hamidiye mosque in Istanbul, Turkey - REUTERS
NEW YORK, Sept 22 2017: Violence broke out at a New York hotel Thursday afternoon when protesters disrupted a speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, The New York Times reported.
In the middle of Erdogan’s speech, delivered in Turkish, a man — one of a handful of protesters — screamed in English: “You’re a terrorist. Get out of my country!” The ballroom at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square instantly erupted, with many attendees chanting Erdogan’s name to drown out the protesters.
Videos showed the protesters — one of them wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of Michael Israel, an American who was killed in a Turkish airstrike while volunteering with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units — being punched and slapped by several attendees as security personnel removed them from the room.
Security also removed at least one person who had assaulted the protesters.
Meghan Bodette, who identified herself as one of six protesters (one of whom was filming), said their goal was “to call attention to the Turkish state’s war crimes and human rights abuses against the Kurdish people,” both in Turkey and in Syria.
The New York Police Department said about five protesters were “briefly detained.” No arrests were made, and no injuries were reported.
A police official, who spoke about the investigation on the condition of anonymity, said it appeared the fight had been instigated by competing protesters, not by Erdogan’s security forces, who have a history of violent run-ins in the United States.
In 2011, the security forces took part in a fight at the United Nations headquarters in New York that sent at least one officer to the hospital. Last year, they, along with police officers, clashed with demonstrators outside the Brookings Institution in Washington.
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