Rep. Adam Schiff

Armenian-Americans, Leaders, Gather in Glendale to Celebrate U.S. Recognition of Armenian Genocide

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By Marianne Love

LOS ANGELES (Daily News) — A crowd of about 200 people packed the Glendale Central Library’s auditorium on Saturday, December 14, for a celebration that even a week ago might not have been predictable.

But, when the political winds blow in a certain way and world events come together, sometimes a long-fought struggle can lead to a win. And that’s what happened on Thursday, when the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians beginning from 1915 to 1923 at the hands of the Ottoman-Turks. Despite major pushback and lobbying from the modern-day Turkish government, the senators joined their counterparts in the House of Representatives (who approved an identical bill in October).

“(The resolution) was a culmination of a lot of hard work … a long struggle against the odds,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, principal co-author on the House bill.

For years Schiff has tried to bring similar legislation to the House floor, sometimes getting really close, but also being rebuffed by political forces that on this issue have prompted Democratic and Republican lawmakers and presidents to shy away from calling the history a genocide.

But observers say recent events, including Turkey’s recent invasion of Syria, where once American ally the Kurds were attacked, helped shape a new political dynamic. With that, even allies of President Trump were willing to defy him and swiftly (and surprisingly) consent to the resolution. And with these independent resolutions not vulnerable to Trump’s veto pen, incredulous advocates in Glendale were touting the maneuver.

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“The most recent resolutions, H.Res 296 and S.Res 150, differ (from past resolutions) in that they were standalone resolutions, meaning neither requires the approval of the other house or the president,” said Alex Galitsky, a spokesperson for the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region. “This is recognition by the House and the Senate in their own right. These initiatives have been spearheaded by the Armenian-American coalition and our allies in Congress.”

For years, Armenians in Glendale and across L.A. have pushed not only Congress, but the Turkish government, to recognize the genocide. They’ve marched. They’ve erected memorials, and they’ve told the stories of their ancestors, lost to what they and scholars say was the deportation and slaughter of 1.5 million of ethnic Armenians from the Ottoman Empire.

The crowd greeted Schiff and Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, with a standing ovation.

Despite the goodwill, the event took a turn for about 20 minutes when protestors disrupted Schiff by shouting profanities and getting into tussles with some of the audience members as they pushed and shoved each other to get their messages across.

The arguments appeared to be between those in attendance and Trump supporters carrying “No to Impeachment” signs and a Trump flag. Schiff has been a leading figure in efforts to  mpeach the president over the past few months, drawing the ire of Trump and his supporters.

Glendale police officers were called and some of the audience members left and did not return to the 2-hour presentation.

There were no arrests made, according to police.

Upon calming down the audience inside the library earlier and restarting the program, Chu said the recently passed resolutions put the genocide issue on the right side of history.

“This is a day to celebrate … a day to commemorate… around this country finally doing the right thing,” Chu said.

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