A brawl near the Turkish ambassador’s home in Washington, D.C., left 11 people injured Tuesday after it appeared that a demonstration triggered fighting in the street.
Video footage captured at the scene shows D.C. police attempting to break up the scuffle as men are seen kicking and punching protesters said to be gathered in solidarity with Kurdish forces. Witnesses said it appeared about two dozen people were gathered peacefully in Sheridan Circle in the neighborhood known as Embassy Row before an opposing group launched an “unprovoked” attack.
Two U.S. Secret Service agents were injured during the incident, the Wall Street Journal reported. The agents sustained superficial wounds, a spokesman for the Secret Service told HuffPost. The Secret Service sometimes provides protection for visiting foreign dignitaries.
“The Secret Service fully respects individuals First Amendment Right to free speech and the right to peacefully protest,” they added in a statement Wednesday. “We will continue to work with our partners at [the Metropolitan Police Department] and the State Department to aggressively pursue accountability for those involved in yesterday’s protests.”
“We are protesting [Erdogan’s] policies in Turkey, in Syria and in Iraq,” a demonstrator, Flint Arthur, told CNN. “They think they can engage in the same sort of suppression of protest and free speech that they engage in in Turkey. They stopped us for a few minutes ... but we still stayed and continued to protest Erdogan’s tyrannical regime.”
The scuffle came the same day Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with President Donald Trump at the White House. The Turkish leader has faced severe criticism in recent months over his strongman leadership tactics, including alleged human rights abuses and a questionable referendum he won last month. Trump has stood by Erdogan and praised him Tuesday as a key ally in the fight against terrorism.
There were conflicting accounts if Erdogan was at the ambassador’s residence during the fight, but some witnesses said it appeared his security detail may have been involved in the brawl. The Washington Post notes Erdogan is staying at Blair House, across from the White House, during his visit.
A Twitter account for D.C. Fire and EMS said nine people were taken to the hospital following the incident, including two who were seriously injured. The Guardian reported that two people were arrested, including one who is being charged with assaulting a police officer.
Carla Herreria contributed to this report.
This story was updated to include information about Secret Service agents who sustained injuries during the incident and an updated number of injured individuals. It was also updated to include a statement from the Secret Service.