Videos posted on social media appeared to show protesters in New York being hit and punched as they were removed from a speech by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to one video on Twitter, a protester who appeared to be American yelled at Erdogan, “You’re a terrorist! Get out of my country!”
The scuffles took place as Erdogan addressed the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC), a group friendly to Erdogan, at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
Here’s a ground-level view:
Earlier this year, members of Erdogan’s own security detail were indicted by a grand jury for attacking protesters in May 2017 during a Washington visit — as he looked on. But this point, it is unclear whose security detail was punching and hitting the protesters as they were being removed.
There are several possibilities and quite a bit of blame, but no admission of responsibility.
The State Department doesn’t think it’s the Turkish detail, though. Citing U.S. law enforcement officials, a State Department official said that “at this time, it does not appear that Turkish security officials were involved in this incident.”
The host group TASC initially blamed the U.S. Secret Service for the rough treatment of the protesters, claiming in a statement, “The U.S. secret service arrested four YPG supporters for trespass and disturbing the event.” It went on to say, “President Erdogan calmly and wisely restored order, and the program continued seamlessly and successfully.” (YPG is a Kurdish opposition group.)
But the Secret Service denies any involvement in the incident, CBS News reports. The Secret Service did say there were agents present in the room, though. Secret Service says that after the heckling, five individuals were escorted from the room by hotel security and the NYPD, but they were not arrested, and neither were they charged.
The NYPD, however, told CBS News’ Duncan McKenna that it also had no involvement in the removal of the protesters, and initially said that it was the Turkish security detail that had dealt with the protesters before clarifying that it was the security connected to the event that had removed them.
The private security firm hired for the event by TASC, Entourage Security,…