BRENTWOOD—The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating three reported assaults that occurred during the Armenian-Azerbaijani protests as possible hate crimes.
On Monday, July 20, and Tuesday, July 21, the Armenian Youth Federation organized gatherings at the Azerbaijani Consulate in Brentwood. Hundreds protested alleged unprovoked Azerbaijani aggression toward Armenia in their shared border region around Armenia’s northern province of Tavush.
The initial clashes started on July 12, however, the exact cause is unknown. It has resulted in at least 16 military and one civilian casualties. The Azerbaijani government reported the deaths of one major general, one colonel and two majors. The Armenian government reported the deaths of one major, one captain and two sergeants.
The matter of contention is the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that escalated to war between 1988 and 1994. Though the Nagorno-Karabakh region has an overwhelming Armenian population, it is Azerbaijani territory. It was granted to Azerbaijan under the Soviet Union. There have been border clashes over the region in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
In response to the July 12 skirmishes at the border, Armenians have staged protests in various cities including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Washington DC, London, Yerevan, Belgium, Vancouver, Sydney, and more.
On July 20, Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted: “We stand with the Armenian community against violence. Azerbaijan must end its provocative and dangerous threats to strike Armenia’s civilian nuclear power plant, and must admit international monitors. Dialogue and diplomacy are the only paths to peace and safety for the region.”
Unlike the previous protests, during the July 21st protests in Los Angeles, Armenian protesters were met with opposition by a smaller group of Azerbaijani protesters. According to a statement from the LAPD, an altercation broke out on the streets and three Azerbaijani protesters sustained non-life threatening injuries. Additionally, one police officer suffered a laceration and was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Twitter user @QmrMmmdova2 said, “This happened today in Los Angeles 5000 Armenian demonstrators brutally attacked Azerbaijani guys and beat them, 2 of them hospitalized! Now you can see who is an aggressor!”
User @karabakharmenia offered a different perspective, stating: “I was at the LA protest… an Armenian woman turned on a street where a group of Azeri men were… they asked if she was Armenian and once she said yes, they kicked and stuck their flag poles in her car. Word broke out and Armenians came quick to her defense.”
The LAPD is asking anyone with information on the altercation during the protest to call 310.444.1531.