U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell, while addressing a crowd at the 13th Patterson Turkish Festival on April 28, said that U.S. Congress takes the May 2017 incident involving an attack on protesters by a group, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security guards, in Washington D.C., seriously, underlining the need for freedom, democracy and respect for everyone.
‘’If I see that respect is not being given, I’m going to speak out,’’ Pascrell said. ”That’s what the people hired for me to do.”
In May 2017, 15 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security team were accused of beating peaceful protesters in Washington. U.S. prosecutors have dropped charges against 11 of the 15 security guards in the incident that launched national headlines, sparking outrage among members of the U.S. Congress.
‘’There isn’t one incident where the Turkish community can say Bill Pascrel wasn’t respectful of the Turkish community,’’ the congressman said while prefacing his criticism of the incident. ‘’Many of us in U.S. Congress are making an issue of this,’’ Pascrel underlined, noting that the Turkish community in Patterson was, for the most part, in agreement with him.
Five Americans have since have filed a lawsuit against the Turkish republic, asking for $310 million in damages in a rare civil action against a foreign government.
The Turkish president responded to the indictments of his bodyguards over the brawl by calling the American judicial system ”scandalous.”