Thousands of people marched through Hollywood and the Mid-City area Wednesday to mark the 104th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, again calling on Turkey -- and the United States -- to officially recognize that it occurred.
Turkey has refused to recognize the killings of 1.5 million Armenians beginning in 1915 as a genocide. Americans presidents have also declined to do so, calling the deaths at the hands of the Ottoman Empire an atrocity, but not a genocide. President Donald Trump continued that trend Wednesday, releasing a statement honoring those who died, but failing to term their deaths part of a genocide.
"Today, we ... honor the memory of those who suffered in one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century," Trump said. "Beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. On this day of remembrance, we again join the Armenian community in America and around the world in mourning the many lives lost."
Thousands of Armenians and their supporters gathered at 10 a.m. near Hollywood and Hobart boulevards for a march sponsored by Unified Young Armenians. The group marched in a rectangular route on Hollywood Boulevard, Normandie Avenue, Sunset Boulevard then back north on Hobart. Another rally will be held beginning at 1 p.m. outside the Turkish Consulate at 6300 Wilshire Blvd., in a gathering sponsored by the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region and a variety of other groups.
Organizers said the event is staged "to demand justice for the Armenian Genocide" by "bringing Armenian demands directly to Turkey's official government representative in Los Angeles." The Armenian genocide began in 1915 and resulted in the deaths of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in a campaign blamed on Turkey's Ottoman government.
While the genocide has been chronicled by historians, who often view it as having been ethnic cleansing, Turkey has denied it occurred, saying the deaths of Armenians was a function of the chaos of World War I, which also claimed Turkish lives.
More than 200,000 people of Armenian descent live in Los Angeles County, making the Southland home to the largest Armenian community outside of Armenia. Despite calls by some legislators -- most notably Rep. Adam Schiff, D- Burbank -- for the federal government to formally recognize the genocide, U.S. presidents have long refused to do so.
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Former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, failed to recognize the genocide during his eight years in office, despite indications during his original campaign that he would do so. Schiff on Wednesday called the failures by presidents of both political parties "shameful." "The denial of the genocide is an enduring wound to the Armenian people who descended from survivors to build lives here in the United States, in Armenia and around the world," Schiff said.