Erdogan's bodyguards beat protesters during his Washington, DC, visit
A street fight erupted in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday between the men who appeared to be the bodyguards of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a group assembled to protest his presence at the White House.
The scuffle, which broke out on the 1600 block of 23rd Street NW, just outside the Turkish ambassador's residence, resulted in nine people injured and two arrests, NBC News reports.
Witnesses told the Guardian that members of Erdogan's security detail incited the violence after spotting protesters carrying the flag of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD. Video from the scene shows uniformed men violently beating and kicking members of the crowd as D.C. police attempt to intervene.
Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck confirmed to the Guardian that two arrests had been made, and said that one of the people taken into custody had been charged with assaulting a police officer.
Many were quick to point out the optics of Erdogan standing shoulder-to-shoulder with United States President Donald Trump — pledging strength and cooperation between the two nations inside the White House — while a public display of what life is like inside the Turkish president's increasingly authoritarian regime unfolded elsewhere in the city.
During a joint press address with Trump, Erdogan took a firm line against the U.S. providing arms to the Syrian Kurdish PYD party, which Turkey views as a terrorist group, to aid in the fight against the Islamic State in the region.
"It is absolutely unacceptable to take the YPG-PYD into consideration as partners in the region, and it's going against a global agreement we reached," Erdogan said. "In the same way, we should never allow those groups who want to change the ethnic or religious structures in the region to use terrorism as a pretext."