CHICAGO – Due to its status as America’s third largest city, the presence of both Armenian and Turkish consulates, a thriving Armenian community, as well as a substantial Turkish community, Chicago is becoming a hotspot for protests revolving around the war in Artsakh. We spoke with Irina Petrosyan, personal assistant to the honorary consul of the Republic of Armenia in Chicago, Oscar Tatosian, to inform us about recent events in the city.
On Thursday, October 15, from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m., a protest was organized by Chicago’s Armenian community “in coordination with the ARF [Armenian Revolutionary Federation],” in front of the downtown studios of Chicago’s ABC affiliate TV station (ABC-7/WLS-TV). The protest was “for coverage about the war” said Petrosyan, and was organized to “demand coverage of our calls to justice” according to organizer Anoush Bargamian. We are informed that there were only about 20 people present at this protest. A representative of ABC-7 News emerged from the building saying that the news was being filmed on the second floor and nobody could hear the protestors outside, but that they would accept a statement from the Armenian group. A press release was handed to the ABC representative. Later, it was learned that ABC-7 had been filming the Armenian protestors from a first-floor window.
According to Petrosyan, the Armenian community believes that due to this small protest, ABC-7 Chicago was convinced to send a news team to the protest that was to take place at the Turkish Consulate on Saturday, October 17.
Before that could happen, however, a group of about 50 Azerbaijani protestors came to the Armenian Consulate in Chicago the following day, Friday, October 16. Petrosyan was an eyewitness to these events. The Armenian Consulate is run out of the same premises as Tatosian’s business, Oscar Isberian Rugs in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago.
Standing across the narrow street from the consulate, and holding a large sign that read “Karabakh is Azerbaijan,” the protestors were waving Azerbaijani, Turkish, and even Israeli, Ukrainian, and Pakistani flags. Some also had American flags and Chicago’s official city flag.
Petrosyan remarked that a personal contact of hers in the Ukrainian community had informed her that the individuals holding Ukrainian flags were not Ukrainian, and that furthermore, the Azerbaijanis allegedly had contacted members of the Ukrainian community offering them sums of $200 to come and join the protest.