Nine people were hurt, including one seriously, and two were arrested when a fight broke out between opposing groups of protesters outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC. The demonstration occurred as the Turkish president was in town.

The protest took place during evening rush hour, hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with President Donald Trump at the White House. The demonstration shut down Sheridan Circle.

About two dozen people showed up outside the ambassador’s residence.

“We are protesting [Erdogan’s] policies in Turkey, in Syria and in Iraq,” Flint Arthur of Baltimore, Maryland told CNN.

It is unclear what started the fracas between the opposing groups, one of which carried Kurdish flags and anti-Erdogan posters, while the other brandished Turkish flags, with both shouting slogans.

One witness tweeted that the fight may have been between protesters and police officers.

Others said that members of Erdogan’s security detail were involved.

“They think they can engage in the same sort of suppression of protest and free speech that they engage in in Turkey,” Arthur said. “They stopped us for a few minutes… but we still stayed and continued to protest Erdogan’s tyrannical regime.”

“We’ve had a great relationship and we will make it even better,” Trump said as the two men sat next to each other in the Oval Office. “We look forward to having very strong and solid discussions.”

Trump has been criticized for not publicly condemning the Turkish leader’s human rights record and for congratulating him on winning a mid-April referendum that was widely seen as a way for Erdogan to consolidate power in a more authoritarian way.

Despite Trump’s praise, relations with the US and Turkey have been strained of late, and Erdogan brought a laundry list of complaints about American policies with him to Washington.

During private discussions, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence “raised the incarceration of Pastor Andrew Brunson and asked that the Turkish Government expeditiously return him to the United States,” the White House said in a statement.

After Erdogan left the White House, the complex was placed on lockdown when someone jumped a bike rack serving as a barrier on the north fence line along Pennsylvania Avenue. The suspect was quickly taken into custody, the US Secret Service said.

 

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