Turkish President Erdogan’s Bodyguards Beat Up US Protesters—Again

The skirmish happened shortly before Trump said the leader is “getting very high marks.”

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump shake hands prior to their meeting in New York on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017.AP

On Thursday, President Donald Trump showered praise upon the increasingly autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “It’s a great honor and privilege—because he’s become a friend of mine—to introduce President Erdogan of Turkey,” Trump told reporters at a bilateral meeting in New York, where both leaders have been this week for the UN General Assembly. “He’s running a very difficult part of the world. He’s involved very, very strongly and, frankly, he’s getting very high marks.”

Just hours earlier, Erdoğan’s bodyguards were captured on camera brutally beating up U.S. protesters inside the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, where Erdoğan was giving a “special address” to a reception in his honor.

Today’s skirmish marks the second time this year that the Turkish president’s bodyguards have gotten physical on US soil. The last time this happened was at a May demonstration outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. Nine people were injured, and in August, a Washington, D.C., grand jury returned indictments against 15 Turkish security officials and four others. The indictment states that Erdoğan’s security detail and his supporters “used threats and physical violence—intensely kicking at protesters—to dispel the anti-Erdoğan protesters, attack the anti-Erdoğan protesters, and blatantly ignore American law enforcement commands to cease the violence.” As Politico notes, the White House never addressed the incident. 

 Since the failed coup in Turkey last July, Erdoğan has been busy silencing dissenters in his home country through intimidation, firings, force, and jail time. Approximately 40,000 teachers have been purged, 130,000 people suspected of being dissenters have been fired in the private and public sectors, and 120 journalists have been jailed, as have more than a dozen opposition lawmakers.

Watch how the violence unfolded on Thursday, from multiple angles: