An investigation is underway following anti-Armenian flyers recently posted near one of LA’s oldest churches — St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Glendale and also placed along Central Avenue, a main street in the independent city.
The Glendale Police Department received a call on Friday, March 31, from a passerby who saw the disturbing flyers viewed as promoting the completion of genocide and hate and violence against Armenian people.
“I’m very disturbed and upset that speech inciting violence against Armenians has visited our city by way of individuals vandalizing our city with hate-filled flyers,” Ardy Kassakhian, mayor of the City of Glendale said.
“Our police are taking this issue seriously and will be investigating this as a hate crime. I speak for our residents and our council when I say that Glendale is not a place for hate speech against Armenians or any other group,” he said.
“We are extremely concerned by the dissemination of these appalling anti-Armenian flyers in Glendale calling for the continuation of the Armenian Genocide,” The Armenian National Committee (ANCA) Glendale Chapter Chair Lucy Petrosian said in a statement.
She joined Glendale city leaders at a press conference immediately after the flyers were found. The organization, in a statement referenced a similar incident that occurred in Beverly Hills and encouraged people to “educate themselves about the history of the Armenian Genocide and the struggles faced by the Armenian community in order to promote understanding and empathy.”
The City of Glendale is the heart of the Armenian community in Los Angeles. It’s the center for a bustling Armenian business community where thousands of Armenians have made their home and raised their families in a town that celebrates their culture.
Since the genocide in 1915, thousands of Armenians from countries around the world migrated to the United States, including to areas throughout Los Angeles and Glendale. In the late 70s, there was a significant surge of Armenians who moved to the city of Glendale, establishing it as an Armenian community — so much so it has been referred to as the capital of the diaspora.
The month of April is meaningful for the community, with several events including a large protest that draws thousands to march each year on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day observed on April 24 — the anniversary of the Armenian genocide to call attention to the death and displacement of 1.5 million Armenians and the refusal by Turkey to recognize the mass killings by Ottoman Turks during World War I as genocide. It remains a highly sensitive issue and dispute with Turkey.
A massive march is held each year both in Times Square in New York and in the city of Glendale. There are also protests held outside Turkish consulates not only because the Turkish government has yet to acknowledge the genocide, but because it has not ended its support of Azerbaijan in the Artsakh, a region fought over by Azerbaijan and Armenia which has been locked in a bitter conflict.
“As we approach the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, these hate flyers are a stark reminder that we must remain vigilant against the forces of discrimination, hatred and genocide denial,” Petrosian said.”Promoting the continuation of such atrocities is not only morally repugnant — it also constitutes a direct threat to our community’s safety and well-being.”
“Even after more than a century since the unimaginable atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire through the killing of over 1.5 million innocent Armenians, we continue to witness the efforts by hate groups today which continue to promote the atrocious act of genocide right here in the City of Glendale, home to one of the largest Armenian communities in the United States,” said Kassakhian.
Kassakhian believes the individuals or groups responsible for these flyers are “undoubtedly emboldened by the ongoing denial by the Republic of Turkey of the Armenian Genocide as well as the active and current aggression by the government of Azerbaijan against the Armenian people in Artsakh.”
California Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank) called the posted flyers “vile.” “Let’s be clear that we will not allow these hateful racists to create discord between the Jewish and Armenian communities,” Friedman said.
The Glendale Police Department released its own separate statement and encouraged the public to contact them with any information relating to the posted flyers:
“The Glendale Police Department is investigating this incident thoroughly in the hope of identifying the perpetrator(s) responsible for spreading hate and fear within our community. We will work diligently to bring those responsible to justice. We are in constant communication with city officials and community leaders to express our support and keep them abreast of investigative developments. We are committed to protecting those who live, work, or visit Glendale and maintaining a safe and inclusive community.”
“Our country has seen a spike in hate incidents in the last decade as hate speech and violent acts have visited various communities throughout the US,” said Kassakhian.
“It’s important that we speak out against such acts and condemn them no matter who the victim or targeted group may be. The cowardly act of pasting hate-based flyers on light poles promoting genocide in front of a house of worship is unconscionable and intolerable,” he said.
Anyone with information about this hate incident is asked to contact the Glendale Police Department at 818 548-4911.