Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan physically assaulted protesters at a rally in New York, in a striking resemblance to violent fighting that took place earlier this year when Mr. Erdogan’s security team and supporters attacked peaceful protesters in D.C.
American Robert Amos was one of the protesters physically assaulted at the event in New York, in which video captured by VOA Turkish shows him being repeatedly hit in the head as he is escorted out of the event.
“I’m kind of sore right now,” he said in an interview with The Washington Times. “I haven’t gone to the hospital but people are saying I should for legal reasons.”
Mr. Amos, along with four other people, had planned to protest Mr. Erdogan’s visit to the U.S. over his policy of targeting Kurdish fighting groups in Syria and in particular regarding an American citizen killed in a Turkish air strike on Kurdish forces.
Mr. Amos and his friends sought to bring attention to the death of their friend, Michael Israel, an American who was killed fighting with the YPG in Syria at the end of 2016. Mr. Amos said Israel died after Turkish aircraft targeted YPG forces fighting against ISIS.
In 2015, Mr. Amos volunteered as a fighter with the Kurdish YPG forces in Syria, which fall under the banner of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIS.
Turkey, however, considers YPG members to be terrorists aligned with the PKK, a Kurdish terrorist group based in Turkey.
In December, the Los Angeles Times reported that a spokesman for one of the militias aligned with the SDF confirmed Mr. Israel’s death in the Turkish air strike, along with a German national and 10 others, that took place in a village 13 miles northeast of the front line against Islamic State.
“They didn’t expect to be attacked since they weren’t in a front line against the Turkish-backed rebels but against Daesh [ISIS], so they had not taken precautions against airstrikes,” Sherwan Darwish, the spokesman, told the L.A. times.
“The Turks all got it,” Mr. Amos said of the response to their protest, saying that half the room appeared to be conservative Muslims from other countries and the other half Turkish supporters of Mr. Erdogan.
In the video, one protester in a white shirt is seen being forcibly removed from his seat after standing up and shouting toward the front of the room. Mr. Amos said they had planned to stand up at intervals to make sure they got their message across. When Mr. Amos stood up, he said a lot of people tried to get to him but he was sitting between women and the elderly and that protected him for a moment.
The video footage shows Mr. Amos, in a beige suit and black shirt, cooperating with security guards escorting him out of the venue, but as he reached the center aisle, different men launched themselves at Mr. Amos — hitting him with their fists, Turkish flag poles and books.
“One guy who was Marriott security, grabbed me and said ‘I got you man, I got you,’ that’s when I was running the gauntlet,” he said.
It’s unclear if any of Mr. Erdogan’s security detail were involved in the fighting. CBS News reported that an outside security agency had been hired to work the event and that according to the host group, The Turkish American National Steering Committee, hotel and private security had removed the protesters.
In a separate event, Turkish security personnel and pro-Erdogan supporters were indicted by a D.C. grand jury for their involvement in violent fighting that took place outside the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence in May.
Video of that fighting was also captured by VOA Turkish.
Of the 19 people indicted, 15 are part of Mr. Erdogan’s security detail, two others are Canadian citizens and two are U.S. citizens.
In 2011 in New York, Mr. Erdogan’s security detail was also involved in a physical altercation with U.N. security personnel at that year’s General Assembly.