LOS ANGELES — Vigils, marches and demonstrations commemorating the 1.5 million Armenians killed by Ottoman Turks more than a century ago were held last weekend in the Southland.
Thousands participated in the Armenian Genocide Commemoration March, sponsored by Unified Young Armenians, which began about 10 a.m. April 24 at the intersection of Hobart and Hollywood boulevards in Little Armenia.
The protesters marched to a “Rally for Justice” outside the Turkish Consulate at 6300 Wilshire Blvd., where thousands of people gathered, along with about two dozen pro-Turkey counter-protesters, according to KNX 1070.
According to one crowd estimate provided by a representative for event organizers, as many as 25,000 people joined the rally, but that figure could not immediately be confirmed with police.
By about 3:30 p.m., most of the crowd had departed and was down to about 5,000 people, according to authorities at the scene.
Some fruit, cucumbers and vegetables were thrown, but police kept the parties separated as aircraft flew overhead towing banners bearing the Turkish flag and slogans such as “Get Real,” and “Stop Armenian Lies,” KNX said.
Five rally-related arrests were reported, but it was unclear for what alleged offenses, according to Officer Norma Eisenman of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section. No injuries were reported and the protest was largely peaceful, she said.
On April 23, a vigil was held outside Glendale City Hall and the United Armenian Council of Los Angeles held a special observance at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument in Montebello.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti attended the Montebello observance and spoke to the crowd.
“People across Los Angeles and our entire region are coming together this weekend to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide,” Garcetti said.
“As we remember the 1.5 million lives lost to this atrocity, we are reminded of our obligation to acknowledge the horrors of the past and condemn the aggression of today. I am deeply troubled by recent reports of violence out of Nagorno Karabakh, due to a break in the ceasefire negotiated with Azerbaijan in 1994. This violence has a deep impact in L.A. and surrounding areas, which is home to the largest Armenian community outside of Armenia. The path to a resolution in this conflict must be one of peace and not war.
“In standing up for this annual commemoration, and against the violence of today, we bend the arc of history toward a truth that cannot be denied: the Armenian people have endured great suffering that deserves full and unqualified acknowledgment — and they should never stand alone in the demand for justice,” Garcetti added.
On April 17, the 10th annual Walk to End Genocide was held in Mid-City to raise funds for anti-genocide educational and advocacy efforts in the U.S. and to support projects aiding survivors of the conflicts in Sudan and Congo.
Historians say the systemic slaughter of Armenians began on April 24, 1915 when Turkey’s Ottoman government rounded up and arrested 250 intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople.
What some consider the first genocide of the 20th Century continued until 1923. But officials in modern Turkey deny there was ever a genocide. And the United States government has been reluctant to use the word genocide to describe the mass killings.