A handful of anti-impeachment protesters tried to hijack an Armenian community gathering tonight in Glendale, California organized by the ANCA Western Region to thank Congress and to mark the recent passage of two historic resolutions in the House and the Senate commemorating the Armenian Genocide – Turkey’s WWI-era mass extermination and exile of over 1.5 million Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians.
Scuffles broke out as Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), a co-sponsor of a resolution on the issue, spoke in the auditorium at the Glendale Central Library, the Los Angeles Times reports.
As Schiff began speaking, a man and two women held up signs reading,”Don’t Impeach.” When they were asked to take down the signs, they refused.
Then, about a dozen people scattered throughout the auditorium began yelling, “Liar.”
When some in the audience asked them to refrain from yelling, scuffles broke out throughout the room, and the audience members who were yelling at Schiff removed their jackets, revealing shirts supporting President Trump.
After about 15 minutes, the scuffles settled down, and the event continued.
There were three Glendale police officers at the event who helped deal with the situation, according to the Police Department. No injuries were reported, police said.
In a statement, the Armenian committee said what made the act that much more “egregious” was that descendants of genocide survivors were in the room, many of them elderly, who had waited for the passage of such resolutions their entire lives and had attended the event to express their gratitude to all those who supported the cause for decades.
“While as Americans, we value our right to freedom of speech, today’s actions by a select few were designed to disrupt an event that had no connection to recent political divisions and disrespected the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Though asked to leave, the disrupters instead remained and continued to behave in an appalling manner which lacked any semblance of human decency,” the ANCA-WR said.
“Our democracy deserves better than the disgraceful behavior of those who tried to disrupt a non-partisan, non-political event meant to express unity and gratitude on a purely humanitarian issue, and we strongly condemn any attempt to hijack its message,” the Committee concluded.
Schiff said he appreciated the opportunity to take part in the event.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to share in the community’s celebration of the historic passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution in both the House and Senate, and thankful for the recognition of the efforts of so many people who made this day possible,” he said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, some came to the event with the intent to disrupt, but the Armenian community has had to overcome far greater challenges along the road to recognition than to be deterred by a few angry voices,” said Schiff, who as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has helped lead the Trump impeachment investigation.