At a town hall event on Saturday where an Armenian organization was thanking U.S. government officials for their support of resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide, scuffles broke out as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), a co-sponsor of a resolution on the issue, spoke in the auditorium at the Glendale Central Library.
As Schiff began speaking, an elderly man and woman and a younger woman held up signs stating “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, several scuffles broke out throughout the room, and the audience members who were yelling at Schiff removed their jackets. They were wearing pro-President Trump T-shirts.
After roughly 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 Glendale Police Department. No injuries were reported, according to police.
The event was organized by the Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region to thank the U.S. House of Representatives for passing a resolution affirming its recognition of the Armenian Genocide in October and celebrating the U.S. Senate’s unanimous recognition of the Armenian Genocide on Thursday.
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,” he added.
In a statement from the Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region, the organization 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 come to 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,” according to the statement.
“Though asked to leave, the disrupters instead remained and continued to behave in an appalling manner which lacked any semblance of human decency,” the statement added.
The committee said the issue transcends partisan politics in its appeal to properly honor and acknowledge the 1.5 million Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians who were murdered starting in 1915 when the Ottoman Empire, now modern-day Turkey, murdered them.
“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,” according to the committee’s statement.