Don’t let them get away with it

Charges should be brought against Mr. Er­go­dan’s goons for beat­ing up pro­test­ers in the Dis­trict.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

“THE MEN kicked peo­ple ly­ing on the ground and put a woman in a choke­hold just a mile from the White House. They out­num­bered the pro­test­ers nearly two to one.” That is one of the find­ings of the New York Times’s re­view of videos and photographs of the vi­o­lent at­tack May 16 on pro­test­ers by Turk­ish body­guards dur­ing Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan’s visit.

The metic­u­lous re­view makes clear how ridicu­lous it is for the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment to dou­ble down on its claims that po­lice were at fault for in­ad­e­quate con­trol of demon­stra­tors. It makes one won­der what is tak­ing U.S. au­thor­i­ties so long in bring­ing charges against the as­sailants, and whether the White House is ever go­ing to speak out against this clear-cut at­tack on Amer­i­can cit­i­zens ex­er­cis­ing their First Amend­ment rights.

Eleven peo­ple were in­jured in the melee out­side the Turk­ish am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence at Sheri­dan Cir­cle that has be­come the source of in­creas­ing diplo­matic ten­sions. The State Depart­ment con­demned the events and sum­moned the Turk­ish am­bas­sador, prompt­ing Tur­key’s For­eign Min­istry to sum­mon the Amer­i­can am­bas­sador and lodge a for­mal protest over “ag­gres­sive” ac­tions by U.S. per­son­nel. On Thurs­day, the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee passed a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing the at­tack, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) de­manded an apol­ogy.

Mr. Ryan shouldn’t hold his breath. The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment, as ev­i­denced by the gall of the lat­est state­ment from its Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs, has made clear it doesn’t care about facts as it tries to in­sist that ill-pre­pared po­lice and ag­gres­sive pro­test­ers were to blame. Never mind the video show­ing oth­er­wise. Never mind the im­ages of Mr. Er­do­gan com­pla­cently watch­ing as his black-suited guards charge off. Never mind that the Times was able to track the ac­tions of 24 men (in­clud­ing armed mem­bers of the se­cu­rity de­tail and civil­ian sup­port­ers of Mr. Er­do­gan) as they punched and kicked pro­test­ers, in­clud­ing women.

The D.C. po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­tin­u­ing, with co­op­er­a­tion from the Se­cret Ser­vice and the State Depart­ment, ac­cord­ing to Chief Peter New­sham. We un­der­stand the need for care­ful re­view, but there also should be a sense of ur­gency in bring­ing to jus­tice those re­spon­si­ble for this in­de­fen­si­ble at­tack on peace­ful pro­test­ers. Charges should be brought. If diplo­matic im­mu­nity pre­cludes prose­cu­tion in some cases, those wrong­do­ers should be made per­sonae non grata in the United States.

It is also im­por­tant that Pres­i­dent Trump make clear to Mr. Er­do­gan that such thug­gery — while un­for­tu­nately unchecked in his home coun­try — has no place here.

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