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Scuffles break out at Schiff appearance

Scuffles spurred by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff‘s (D-Calif.) appearance broke out at a town hall in California to commemorate recognizing the Armenian genocide.

The event in Glendale, Calif., organized by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) was designed to praise lawmakers who voted to recognize the Armenian genocide in recent House and Senate resolutions, ANCA Western Region Chair Nora Hovsepian told The Hill.

But when Schiff started to speak at the event, a man and a woman held up signs that said, “Don’t Impeach.” The two were asked to take down the signs, but they declined. About a dozen people then crowded the town hall yelling, “Liar!” and taking off jackets to display pro-Trump merchandise, The Los Angeles Times reported.  

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Some commotion broke out in the crowds for about 15 minutes as those attending the town hall asked for the yelling to stop.

Three Glendale police officers at the event helped regulate the episode, and no injuries were reported, police told the Times.

Schiff, who served as a head investigator in President Trump’s impeachment inquiry, said in a statement obtained by The Hill that he was “grateful” to celebrate the resolutions with the community.

“Unfortunately, some came to the event with the intent to disrupt, but the Armenian community has had to overcome far greater challenges along the road to recognition than to be deterred by a few angry voices,” Schiff said. 

The ANCA also released a statement, saying the protests were more “egregious” because the descendents of genocide survivors were in the room.

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“While, as Americans, we value our right to freedom of speech, today’s actions by a select few were designed to disrupt an event that had no connection to recent political divisions and disrespected the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide,” the statement read.

The House and the Senate both passed resolutions acknowledging the genocide in October and December, respectively, against President Trump’s wishes to delay the votes. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pushed Trump not to recognize the genocide last month.

Hovsepian said in a statement to The Hill that the event was intended to be “non-political” and “non-partisan,” but the protesters prompted many community members to leave before the end of the event.
 
“They heckled Congressman Schiff, would not let him speak, shouted profanities and picked fights with attendees who were obviously very emotional and appalled that the solemnity of the event and the memory of our 1.5 million martyrs were being disrespected,” she said.

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