Scuffles broke out Saturday during a Glendale town hall event on Armenian genocide that was attended by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), who is at the center of the effort to impeach President Trump.
The event at the Glendale Central Library was meant for an Armenian organization to thank U.S. government officials for their support of resolutions recognizing the Armenian genocide. Schiff is a co-sponsor of a resolution.
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. The audience members who were yelling at Schiff removed their jackets, revealing shirts supporting 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.
The event was organized by the Armenian National Committee of America — Western Region to thank the U.S. House of Representatives for recently passing a resolution affirming its recognition of the Armenian genocide and celebrating the U.S. Senate’s passage of the resolution.
The measure’s passage is considered a rebuke to Trump, who had sought its delay, and to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had lobbied the White House to block the designation. The Turkish government disputes that a genocide took place.
Erdogan, in an Oval Office visit last month, warned of dire consequences for the Washington-Ankara relationship if the “genocide” term were to be formalized. The Senate resolution declared it U.S. policy “to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance” and “reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide.”
Southern California is home to an estimated 200,000 Armenian Americans, the largest community in the U.S.
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.
In a statement, the Armenian committee said what made the interruptions 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,” the statement said.
The committee said the issue transcended partisan politics in its appeal to properly honor and acknowledge the 1.5 million Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians who were massacred from 1915 to 1923 under the Ottoman Empire, now modern-day Turkey.