Los Angeles, CA.-
On April 24th, the American Hellenic Council and other Greek American organizations joined tens of thousands of Armenian and Assyrian-Americans to commemorate the 102nd Anniversary of Red Sunday – the arrest of 270 Armenian intellectuals from Constantinople – marking the start of the Armenian Genocide.
The event was organized by the Armenian Genocide Committee—a coalition of groups made-up of four Christian denominations, national political parties, as well as the most prominent relief, youth, and advocacy organizations in the Armenian-American community. The march began at Pan Pacific Park, the site of the Holocaust Museum and ended outside the Turkish Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard. It featured speeches from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garecetti, LA City Council members Paul Krekorian and David Ryu, as well as Rep. Adam Schiff, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and numerous community leaders.
“Genocide, never again,” marchers cried in Hollywood on April 24, 2017, in memory of the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
The march began around noon at Pan Pacific Park in the Fairfax district and proceeded about 1 1/2 miles to the consulate, 6300 Wilshire Blvd., at 2 p.m. There, two people who threw things — eggs and a water bottle — were arrested, police said. Two others were detained after they tried to get from the Armenian side into an area set aside for a small group of Turkish-Americans.
At the consulate, some in the crowd shouted “shame on Turkey.” The consulate was closed Monday for security reasons, and plenty of Los Angeles police officers were on hand.
Before the procession — described as the largest such event outside Armenia — another march was organized by Unified Young Armenians at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Square at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue in the Little Armenia area of Hollywood. Just before 11 a.m., many marchers had gathered several blocks east of there, aerial video from Sky5 showed.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Unified School District board President Steve Zimmer were slated to address marchers.
Marchers gather for the Unified Young Armenians’ march in Hollywood on April 24, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)
More than 60,000 people attended the March for Justice event last year, according to the Armenian Genocide Committee, a coalition including nearly 20 churches and groups that organize the march. The coalition expected more than 25,000 attendees on Monday.
Marchers and their supporters are calling for the U.S. and Turkey to recognize as genocide the killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Turkey denies the killings were an orchestrated genocide, saying fewer died and that the deaths should be considered in the context of the global tumult of World War I. Scholars, on the other hand, have said the killings were an atrocious precursor to later genocides such as the Holocaust.
“We don’t need a court to decide whether or not the genocide happened. We know — the whole world knows — that the genocide happened,” one protester said.
In keeping with past presidential administrations, President Donald Trump on Monday issued a statement on the deaths but declined to label the killings with the term “genocide,” The Hill reported.
“Today, we remember and honor the memory of those who suffered during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century,” Trump said, according to The Hill. “I join the Armenian community in America and around the world in mourning the loss of innocent lives and the suffering endured by so many.
Schiff, who has sponsored a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide at a federal level, said that Trump’s statement was “disappointing.”
“President Trump now joins a long line of both Republican and Democratic Presidents unwilling to confront Turkey, and by refusing to do so, he has made the United States once again a party to its campaign of denial,” Schiff said in a statement. “How can we speak with the moral clarity we must about the genocidal campaign by ISIS against religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, if we are unwilling to condemn the first genocide of the last century?”
President Barack Obama had promised to recognize the genocide as such while he campaigned, but never did so in office.