Twelve Turkish Bodyguards Charged in Brutal Assault of Erdogan Protesters

News & Politics

A dozen members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail have been charged with assault for attacking protesters outside of the ambassador’s residence last month, according to the Washington Post.

After the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and other Republican congressmen on Wednesday by a deranged supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, city officials are especially anxious to prevent the normalization of political violence in a city that sees hundreds of political protests every year.

Twelve people were injured in the violent confrontation that took place outside the Turkish ambassador's residence on Sheridan Circle. The attack occurred during Erdogan’s visit to Washington to meet with President Trump, who has spoken favorably of Erdogan’s increasingly undemocratic government.

In the brazen assault, captured in a mosaic of videos collected by the New York Times, plain-clothes security officers attacked, punched and kicked anti-Erdogan demonstrators who were calling for Kurdish independence. The spectacle of the bodyguards of a foreign autocrat attacking people exercising their free speech rights was unprecedented in recent memory.

Washington mayor Muriel Bowser condemned the incident as “an affront to D.C. values and our rights as Americans." The State Department also condemned the attacks. President Trump did not say anything.

Legal experts told the Washington Post that local officials should not take on a criminal case with geopolitical implications because “issues of diplomatic immunity would make any prosecution difficult, if not impossible…. And the leveling of charges might embolden other countries to ignore similar immunity agreements, putting U.S. diplomats abroad at risk."

D.C. police chief Peter Newsham rejected such concerns.

"We intend to ensure that there is accountability for anyone that was involved in this assault,” Newsham said last month. 

With the charges against the 12 men, Newsham made good on his word. Obtaining justice may take a while, as the accused are believed to have returned to Turkey. 

But for a city shaken by yesterday’s shooting, the message that political violence is unacceptable was timely and welcome.

Here’s one look at the incident.

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