Suited men pushed and punched protesters who on September 21 heckled a speech being given by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a New York hotel with chants of "terrorist".
It was not yet clear if the men were pro-Erdogan attendees, presidential bodyguards, or guards providing security at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, the BBC reported on the morning of September 22. If it turns out that any Erdogan bodyguards were involved in unwarranted violence it would be embarrassing for the Turkish president – on May 16, violence broke out as Erdogan, having visited Donald Trump at the White House, was arriving outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. Eleven people were injured and on August 29 a grand jury indicted 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officials, in connection with the incident. Erdogan called the indictments against his personnel “a complete scandal”.
Citing US law enforcement officials, a US State Department official said that it did not appear that Turkish security officials were involved in the clash at the hotel, CBS reported.
The incident came as Erdogan, in New York for the UN General Assembly, was addressing supporters at an event organised by the Turkish-American National Steering Committee (TASC). He was interrupted by several demonstrators, with one yelling: "You're a terrorist, get out of my country." That protester is seen in video footage being punched before he is dragged away.
The demonstrators posted images of the clashes on social media. They said their aim was to publicly condemn Erdogan’s regime in Turkey and his Syria and Iraq policies. Flags and banners in support of Kurdish militant group the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) were carried by some protesters. Erdogan regards the YPG as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which for three decades has fought for Kurdish autonomy inside Turkey.
The New York Police Department stated that about five protesters were "briefly detained" after the violence but that no arrests were made.