Turkish president's bodyguards beat up DC protestors: report

Turkish president's bodyguards beat up DC protestors: report
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The men who beat up protesters outside of the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday are bodyguards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, NBC News confirmed.

Video emerged on social media Tuesday of men in black suits racing to the sidewalks outside of the ambassador's residence and kicking demonstrators speaking out against Erdogan’s policies. About two dozen demonstrators gathered for the protest, and nine people who were injured were taken to hospitals, with at least one in serious condition.

The Metropolitan Police Department condemned the incident in a statement on Wednesday, saying it has made two arrests and plans to pursue charges against the people involved.

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“The actions seen outside the Turkish Embassy yesterday in Washington, D.C. stand in contrast to the First Amendment rights and principles we work tirelessly to protect each and every day,” the statement said.

“The Metropolitan Police Department made two arrests following yesterday’s incidents and we have every intention to pursue charges against the other individuals involved. We will continue to work with our partners at the United States State Department and United States Secret Service to identify and hold all subjects accountable for their involvement in the altercation.”

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have condemned the assaults.

“President Erdogan, you would do well to remember that this country is built on free speech, free religion, free press, & freedom to protest,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) tweeted early Wednesday. 

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Regulation: Massachusetts AG sues Equifax | Trump weighs easing rules on gun exports | EPA nominee to fight worker safety rule in court Trump to ease rules on gun exports: report Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (D-Vt.) called the incident “outrageous” during an appearance on MSNBC, shortly after NBC News reported that the attackers were bodyguards.  

"We should say very strongly that is not the way we do things in America,” Leahy told host Andrea Mitchell. 

The skirmish occurred the same day Erdogan appeared at a joint press conference with President Trump at the White House.

Erdogan recently condemned the Trump administration’s decision to arm the Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Turkey views the Syrian Democratic Forces as a counterpart to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, known as the PKK, in Turkey. Both Turkey and the United States consider the PKK a terrorist organization.