LAPD investigating three hate crime/battery incidents
By Toi Creel and Sam Catanzaro
Los Angeles Police Department detectives are investigating three hate crime/battery incidents that occurred during an Armenian protest at the Azerbaijan Consulate in West LA.
There has been unrest since July 12 between Azerbaijani and Armenia in their bordering region in Armenia’s northern province of Tavush.
“The neighbours have been locked in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. International efforts to settle the conflict have stalled,” reads a report from Al Jazeera
Last Tuesday as the Los Angeles Armenian community came out to demonstrate, fistfights broke and a police officer was injured.
According to the LAPD, On July 21, at around 2:00 p.m., a protest, sponsored by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), took place at the Azerbaijan Consulate. A large crowd of Armenian protesters showed up to the 11700 block of Wilshire Boulevard, estimated at one point to be more than 500 people. A counter-protest, held by Azerbaijani protesters, estimated to be between 30-50 people, was held directly across the street. During the protest, the two opposing groups became increasingly agitated which resulted in a physical altercation.
Three Azerbaijani victims came forward and have reported the assaults to police, which are being investigated as hate crimes. The three victims sustained non-life threatening injuries during the altercation, and received medical treatment at a local hospital.
“Hundreds of #Armenians attacked today a small group of #peaceful Azerbaijani counter-protestors in front of our Consulate. 7 Azerbaijanis were injured, 4 hospitalized. #LAPD should seriously investigate this issue and bring all those criminals to justice,” wrote the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles following the incident. “We call on all our partners to raise their voice. This kind of violence targeting a minority group has no place in #LosAngeles!”
The Armenian Youth Federation released the following statement after the protest.
“On the night of our community-led protest against #AzeriAggression, we wanted to ensure that the state of #Azerbaijan truly received our message. On the building where the Consulate General of Azerbaijan resides, we projected “Stop Aliyev” to highlight our solidarity with the Armenian Armed Forces as they continuously protect our Homeland’s borders against the violence that the state of Azerbaijan commits,” the Armenian Youth Federation wrote in the wake of the protest.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, “one officer suffered a laceration” and had to receive hospital treatment for his injuries.
Police say one person was also arrested on suspicion of assault on a police officer. Protesters also noted some “small scuffle broke out.
“I was saddened to hear of the events that took place outside the Consulate of Azerbaijan,” wrote Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a letter to the Azerbaijan Consulate. “While I am unable to comment on an active LAPD investigation, I strongly condemn the actions of those who took to violence.”
Los Angeles has the largest Armenian community in the nation outside of Armenia.