NEW YORK — Violence broke out at another event involving Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, four months after a widely publicized brawl in Washington that led to the indictment of 15 Turkish security personnel.
Erdogan supporters punched and kicked three protesters who interrupted his speech at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square.
Erdogan was addressing several hundred people at an event organized by a business group, the Turkish-American National Steering Committee, when one man stood and began shouting, “Terrorist! Terrorist!”
Voice of America TV footage shows audience members pummeling him as U.S. security officers tried to hustle him to safety. Soon after he was gone, a second man followed suit and also was repeatedly punched and hit over the head with Turkish flags as he was led outside by U.S. security.
Erdogan tried to calm the crowd, saying: “Let’s not sacrifice the whole meeting for a couple of terrorists.”
Then a third protester started heckling the president from a different part of the crowd. Although that incident occurred off-camera, a VOA reporter who was nearby said he, too, was beaten.
Robert Renas Amos, an American who previously volunteered with a Kurdish group in Syria to fight against ISIS militants, and was also involved in the brawl earlier this year, told Fox News he and four others went to the event to protest the death of American citizen Michael Israel, an American who was killed last year in Syria while fighting for the YPG.
Amos said he was “dog-piled” by security guards dressed all in black, and was repeatedly kicked, and had his head slammed multiple times as he was taken out of the event. He also said the chaos only intensified as he was being pulled through the room, as random attendees at the event hit and kicked him.
Amos said hotel security attempted to “protect” protestors from the crowd. “I felt someone grab me and say ‘I got you’ just follow me, but then others started hitting,” he claimed.
NYPD officials could not verify if any of the protestors had been attacked by Turkish or private security personnel hired to work the event. Nor was the precise role of the various protective and law enforcement details at the event immediately determined.
This was the second time this year that protesters in America have been assaulted by Erdogan supporters.
In past months, 21 people — many of whom were members of the Turkish ambassador’s security detail — were indicted for allegedly attacking protesters outside the Turkish embassy in Washington in May. All were charged with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, a felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison. Several face additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon. The White House has since strongly denied Erdogan’s account of the phone conversation with Trump.
On Thursday, during his appearance with Erdogan, Trump was asked about the conversation with the Turkish leader regarding the violence against peaceful protesters. Trump did not respond.
VOA’s Turkish service, Peter Heinlein and Paul Alexander contributed to this report.