On September 29, dozens of Armenian students & community members held a protest at USC’s Annenberg Hall where the University decided to host an event featuring Turkey’s Ambassador to the United States, Hasan Murat Mercan. Armenian students disrupted the Turkish Ambassador’s keynote speech before being forcibly removed from the event, after which the Ambassador denied the Armenian Genocide in his address to the audience.
The Consul General of Azerbaijan, Ramil Gurbanov, was also in attendance.
The protest began with an Armenian student standing up in the audience, holding up an Armenian flag in the air & chanting, joined by a dozen other students in the crowd. Police escorted several students outside as they chanted “shame on USC” & “1915 happening again,” in reference to the 1915 Armenian Genocide & the current Genocide & ethnic cleansing taking place in Artsakh by Azerbaijan. The event coordinator, Dr. Robert Banks, demanded the students leave several times before ordering campus security & police officers to forcibly remove USC student protesters.
The protest resulted in physical altercations between protestors and police, with students screaming “get your hands off of me” to the officers as they were being protesting against the Turkish Conference on Public Diplomacy, hosted by USC Annenberg. Dozens of campus police were on the scene, and several Armenian students reported injuries. Armenian students reported being denied entry into the event on the basis of their last name, and several from inside reported that chairs were folded up to claim capacity issues.
Our organization was able to organize this protest with the help of the Armenian Youth Federation.
Our protestors were forcibly removed from a public event, harassed, and injured simply for expressing their first amendment right to protest and simply for being Armenian in the city with the largest population of Armenians in the diaspora. Shame on USC.