Bodyguards for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked protesters Tuesday outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.
— Amerika’nın Sesi (@VOATurkish) May 17, 2017
Video of the incident, shared on Twitter by media outlet “VOA Turkish,” shows men in dark suits defying D.C. police while attacking men and women on the sidewalk outside the embassy.
Nine people total were taken to the hospital with injuries, one of whom is said to be in serious condition.
The Metropolitan Police Department released a statement Wednesday indicating that two arrests had been made with plans to pursue charges against others.
“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.”
DC police chief Peter Newsham noted during a press conference Wednesday that issues of “diplomatic immunity” could halt any potential criminal charges.
The State Department likewise issued a statement indicating it is discussing the issue with the Turkish government “in the strongest possible terms.”
“We are concerned by the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel Tuesday evening,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest.”
The clash took place on the same day as a joint press conference at the White House between Erdogan and President Donald Trump.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment Wednesday when asked about the attack.