Turkish flags were hung early Tuesday morning at two Armenian schools in the San Fernando Valley, prompting a police investigation.
About a dozen flags were found at Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian High School at 5300 White Oak Ave. in Encino and 14 on the exterior fencing at AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School in the 6844 of Oakdale Ave. in Canoga Park, according to the schools' principals.
A person in dark clothing and wearing a mask can be seen going over the perimeter fence of the Encino school in security camera video, said principal Sossi Shanlian.
The hanging of flags at Holy Martyrs were being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Underscoring the seriousness with which the case is being taken, three LAPD captains, two Los Angeles city council members, and the City Attorney joined school officials and representitives of the Armenian National Committee of America at an evening news briefing, denouncing the hanging of the flags as clearly intended to be provocative and "hateful."
Because the hanging of the flags outside the AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian campus did not involve criminal trespass, it was being investigated as a possible "hate incident," according to LAPD Officer Jeff Lee.
The school in Canoga also recorded security video, but it did not show the person as clearly as at the Encino school.
Time code on the video reveals the incidents at the schools five miles apart occurred about 90 minutes apart.
The Turkish Ottoman Empire is blamed for the deaths of more than one million Armenians a century ago during and after the First World War. The refusal of the successor nation of Turkey to recognize what has become known as the Armenia Genocide remains a source of tension.
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"Hanging that flag at this school and the other school is tantamount to a threat or an attempt to intimidate," said Nora Hovsepian, chair of the Armenian National Committe of America, Western Region.
"To put a Turkish flag on an Armenian institution would equate to putting a swastika in a synagogue," said AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School Principal Arpi Avanesian.
As per its usual schedule, the Turkish Consulate of Los Angeles was closed Tuesday afternoon and no one could be reached for comment.
Tuesday night, as part of an effort to locate the perpetrator, LAPD was expected to release images from the security camera video.