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A violent clash between Kurdish protesters and the bodyguards of visiting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan prompted the State Department to issue a response Wednesday after reviewing footage of the incident.
“We are concerned by the violent incidents involving protesters and Turkish security personnel Tuesday evening,” read the statement. “Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest.”
News reports the previous day captured Turkish security agents assaulting protesters outside of Turkey’s embassy. The demonstration was held in opposition to Erdogan’s “crackdown on dissent and his consolidation of power,” as well as Turkey’s prosecution of pro-Kurdish leaders, reported the Washington Post.
Of the two-dozen protesters, nine were taken to the hospital following the melee and two Americans were arrested.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser also weighed in on the incident, which she called “an affront to D.C. values and our rights as Americans.”
“The Metropolitan Police Department will continue investigating the incident and will work with federal partners to ensure justice is served,” she added.
Meanwhile, District police have vowed to work with the State Department and United States Secret Service to “identify and hold and hold all subjects accountable for their involvement in the altercation.”