Perhaps it’s better to call this must-see from the New York Times. The riot in front of the Turkish embassy last week created charges and countercharges between the US and Turkey on responsibility for the fight, which got caught on video from a number of sources. The NYT’s team puts together the videos and tracks the actions of 24 men, including some from the official security detail of the Turkish president, to establish exactly who did what.
It’s impossible to do justice to this investigative report with excerpts, but let’s frame it with this:
Ten of the men who attacked protesters appear to be part of a formal security detail. They dressed in dark suits, and they wore in-ear radio receivers, Turkish breast pins and lanyards with identification cards. At least four of the men carried guns.
Two of these men charged protesters and appeared to start the main part of the fight.
We used five camera angles to track the movements of these two men throughout the melee. One man’s identity card shows Turkish and American flags and Turkey’s presidential seal, suggesting he is a member of the delegation visiting the United States.
The editing and tracking work is pretty amazing, and makes the melee easier to comprehend — as well as responsibility for it. So far, no charges have been filed against any of the instigators, and for some it might be impossible. The security detail for Turkish president Tayyip Recep Erdogan has diplomatic immunity, and that precludes any charges. However, the State Department can declare those men persona non grata and exclude them from future entry to the US, a step that the NYT’s video work should make a lot easier. State may tread cautiously, both because these declarations nearly always result in reciprocal expulsions, and also because of the importance of the US air base at Incirlik.
That doesn’t explain why charges haven’t been filed against others. The NYT’s analysis highlights a few “civilians” in the brawl who either have US citizenship or residence. One of the men, Sinan Narin, can be seen attacking protesters — and later bragged on Facebook that “the fight started with me,” as the Times notes in its report.
Another participant, caught on video kicking a woman who had been tackled to the ground, had already been identified as a US citizen:
A third man, Eyup Yildirim, is seen on video telling police he is a cousin of Alpkenan Dereci. “I’m an American citizen and a taxpayer,” he said. He repeatedly kicked Ms. Usoyan, 34, as she lay on the ground. According to New Jersey records, Mr. Yildirim is 50 and manages three companies in that state.
The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross had already reported on Yildirim’s identity and alleged participation in the attack:
But after being shown a picture of Eyup Yildirim on Wednesday, she says that the 50-year-old supporter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was one of the goons who savagely kicked her while she was curled up in a ball during the melee.
“Absolutely,” Usoyan told The Daily Caller on Wednesday after reviewing Yildirim’s Facebook page to see if he was one of the men who assaulted her.
Yildirim, the owner of a construction company in New Jersey, was one of the most visible figures spotted in videos recorded of last week’s attack. …
TheDC was able to reach Yildirim on Wednesday at a phone number listed for his construction company, Care Construction.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said when asked about his involvement in last week’s violence. He ended the phone call after being asked for comment.
The NYT’s work here in coordinating and annotating the video raises the stakes for both the State Department and the DC police. We cannot allow visiting delegations to attack American citizens engaged in a lawful exercise of their First Amendment rights of speech and peaceable assembly without consequences, even if that costs us something diplomatically in exchange. For those who already live and work here, the consequences for this behavior should come soon — and should have arguably come immediately.