Protesters violently ejected from Erdogan speech in NYC

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. 

The latest incident happened at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square while Erdogan – in town for the United Nations’ General Assembly -- was speaking at an event organized by the Turkish American National Steering Committee. A total of five protestors were briefly detained after the incident, an NYPD official told, and there were no injuries or arrests. 

According to the Associated Press, the dust-up began after one demonstrator got up and shouted, “Terrorist!” during Erdogan’s speech. The man was grabbed by unidentified security officials and rushed out of the hall, while others in the crowd pushed, shoved and shouted. Another demonstrator then unfurled a banner for a banned Kurdish group, and was also escorted out.

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. 

In May, what appeared to be packs of Turkish security personnel were clearly seen on video chasing after, hitting and kicking protesters who had gathered outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington. Nineteen people were indicted last month following that incident, including 15 identified as Turkish security officers. 

That was the latest in a series of incidents around the world in recent years at which Erdogan security forces were accused of attacking or committing violence against protestors.


In February 2016, during Erdogan’s visit to Ecuador, his bodyguards were blamed for applying similarly brutal tactics to suppress protesters, even allegedly breaking the nose of Ecuadorean lawmaker Diego Vintimilla.

Ecuador’s then-President Rafael Correa called the incident “a chain of mistakes,” and fingered the Turkish bodyguards for starting the violence. “To be frank, you cannot do this in a foreign country,” he was quoted as saying.

Three years ago, during a visit to a mining disaster in Soma, Turkey, Erdogan adviser Yusuf Yerkel became an unintended international viral celebrity when he was photographed viciously kicking at a protester -- who was being held down on the ground at the time by Turkish Special Forces.

The bad PR generated by the photo only worsened when it turned out Yerkel then filed a medical report allowing him to miss seven days of work due to injuries sustained to his leg by the kicking.

Only a month later, Erdogan’s guards were in action once again. This time it was in the city of Silivri, where Caner Oruc, a math teacher, reportedly shouted at Erdogan’s bus as it drove through the streets. According to Turkish press reports, Erdogan pointed out Oruc to his seven-member security team, who promptly hauled him into a nearby building, and beat him badly enough to break his nose.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hollie McKay has been a staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @perrych