BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
America’s fractured and polarized political reality found itself on the Armenian community’s doorstep on Saturday when a group of anti-impeachment protesters decided that an event dedicated to the Congressional passage of the Armenian Genocide resolutions would be the optimal place to voice their grievances with Rep. Adam Schiff, who is a key figure in President Trump’s impeachment drama unfolding in Washington.
The event was a Town Hall organized by the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region at the Glendale Public Library celebrating passage of the Armenian Genocide resolutions and featured Schiff and Rep. Judy Chu as its guests who were representing all the lawmakers who voted in favor of the measure.
The raucous began when Schiff took the stage to address the Genocide resolution, but instead was met with chants from the protesters who labeled him a liar. The protesters argument was the Schiff was “forcibly trying to remove our president.” Their chants and disruption obviously elicited anger from the Armenians who had come to the event to join the ANCA-WR in celebrating this momentous victory. It soon turned into a scuffle.
It wasn’t until it was pointed out that the demonstrators’ outburst and misplaced protests were disrespecting the memory of 1.5 million victims of the Genocide and its survivors that they calmed down, with some leaving the auditorium and others sticking around for the remainder of the now reconfigured program, adamantly waving their anti-impeachment and pro-Trump signs and banners.
What the protesters did not realize was that there were Turks in the audience who had come to disrupt the event. They wound up joining the (louder) chorus of anti-Schiff protesters, whose comments after on social media after the event were racist and xenophobic and were mocking “accented” “foreigners” who were attending the town hall.
“No disrespect to you all, I’m glad you guys are getting recognized for your genocide, but this man is a f—–g liar!” said one of the pro-Trump protesters.
The “no disrespect” comment was one echoed by many of the protesters who approached me after the event wound down to convince me that they had high respect for our cause, with one of them even trying to assure me by saying, “by the way, I am not a white supremacist.” Another group of protesters stressed their unequivocal support for Genocide recognition, but not for Schiff, and announced that they were staunch supporters of Johnny Nalbandian, the Republican of Armenian descent who ran against Schiff in 2018.
If they firmly “respect” Genocide recognition, I wonder how many of them will urge their president to do the right thing and recognize the Genocide.
The ANCA-WR issued a statement on Saturday, calling the protests “egregious.”
“What made the act that much more egregious was that descendants of Genocide survivors happened to be in the room, many of them elderly, who had waited for the passage of such a bill their entire lives and had come to the event to express their gratitude to all those who championed this cause over a period of decades,” said the ANCA-WR statement.
While the organizers were careful to not infringe on anyone’s first amendment rights to free speech, the protesters, with their outbursts, curtail and infringed upon the Armenian community’s right to free assembly and speech by disrupting an event that in a way was a celebration of American way of political activism that had a successful outcome.
In the end, the event continued and the ANCA-WR was able to honor Schiff and Chu for their commitment to advancing Armenian concerns in Congress.
On social media, the protesters declared victory. What they actually achieved, however, was lending their voices to the well-oiled Turkish denialist machine and became pawns in the game of gagging the current—and past—White House from speaking truth to justice.
Those paid Turkish nationals will do anything, in order to disqualify and disrupt the truth of the Armenian Genocide, where thousands of their own intellectuals, journalists, army officers in Turkey, serving jail terms in newly built Midnight Express jailhouses! Shame on them! These stupid people should have known, that Trump could have stopped Congress or Senate vote with his presidential veto power, where the US constitution allowed him to do so, as President Bush, Clinton, and Obama did in the past!
should have been escorted out. just like any Armenian gets in Turkey or Azerbaijan for outburst.
Yes, Yes, Yes, very simple ….., If they firmly “respect” Genocide recognition, I wonder how many of them will urge their president to do the right thing and recognize the Genocide.
Dear Samantha Power…
We know you wished truth~Justice to prevail
You worked hard at every occasion…
You could not push your boss… P. Obama …
Hence…to apply what he promised…
He cheated, betrayed Armenians Nine Times…
Because Armenians are peace-loving nation…
They don’t carry scimitars to kill and confiscate
You lost your chance … You Obeyed the genociders…
P. Obama will never enter history …
Hence…Bob Menendez, Ted Cruz, Adam Schiff…
and 300 million honest Americans…
They will be praised by humanity…
To be named the saviors of the souls…
Whose bones are still burning in the desert of Der Zor…
Who were genocided …unethically, ungodly, unfairly
How can any human ignore…what they suffered in their cores…!
Sylva Portoian, MD
December 17, 2019
I am hoping there were no Armenians among protesters, if they were then shame on them, because this is not the place or time for impeachment protest.
It an indecent incident which is reflective of the presidents hold on a misinformed section of the electorate. The truly sad part ….. I suspect there were armenians in the group who unwittingly were part of the “no impeachment” crowd — certainly not the time or place for such a protest — but aslo dishearteneing to know that those same “no impeachment” protestors …. if any were in fact armenians …. support a president who gladly would have stopped families fleeing genocide from being allowed into the country —-
They may disagree with Rep Schiff but to take it on an Armenian event honoring the passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress is totally unacceptable! They have the right to protest and express their free opinion but stay away when we are honoring our innocent 1.5 million victims at eh hand of Turks!
It’s complicated. We like Shiff for his Armenian Cause activsm, but then it’s hard not to like Mr. Trimp, because he is doing a phenomenal job.
You mean he is doing good job not recognizing Armenian Genocide?
A PHENOMENAL JOB DESTROYING OUR REPUBLIC.