“THE MEN kicked people lying on the ground and put a woman in a chokehold just a mile from the White House. They outnumbered the protesters nearly two to one.” That is one of the findings of the New York Times’s review of videos and photographs of the violent attack May 16 on protesters by Turkish bodyguards during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit.
The meticulous review makes clear how ridiculous it is for the Turkish government to double down on its claims that police were at fault for inadequate control of demonstrators. It makes one wonder what is taking U.S. authorities so long in bringing charges against the assailants, and whether the White House is ever going to speak out against this clear-cut attack on American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.
Eleven people were injured in the melee outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence at Sheridan Circle that has become the source of increasing diplomatic tensions. The State Department condemned the events and summoned the Turkish ambassador, prompting Turkey’s Foreign Ministry to summon the American ambassador and lodge a formal protest over “aggressive” actions by U.S. personnel. On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution condemning the attack, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) demanded an apology.
Mr. Ryan shouldn’t hold his breath. The Turkish government, as evidenced by the gall of the latest statement from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has made clear it doesn’t care about facts as it tries to insist that ill-prepared police and aggressive protesters were to blame. Never mind the video showing otherwise. Never mind the images of Mr. Erdogan complacently watching as his black-suited guards charge off. Never mind that the Times was able to track the actions of 24 men (including armed members of the security detail and civilian supporters of Mr. Erdogan) as they punched and kicked protesters, including women.
The D.C. police investigation is continuing, with cooperation from the Secret Service and the State Department, according to Chief Peter Newsham. We understand the need for careful review, but there also should be a sense of urgency in bringing to justice those responsible for this indefensible attack on peaceful protesters. Charges should be brought. If diplomatic immunity precludes prosecution in some cases, those wrongdoers should be made personae non grata in the United States.
It is also important that President Trump make clear to Mr. Erdogan that such thuggery — while unfortunately unchecked in his home country — has no place here.