Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) is leading a bipartisan effort to protect those who are planning to protest Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the White House Wednesday.
Erdogan’s meeting with President Donald Trump comes after Turkey attacked America’s allied Kurdish-led forces in Syria in October, as IJR previously reported. The two leaders are also expected to hold a joint press conference.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of State on Tuesday, Crenshaw, along with other Republican and Democratic lawmakers, requested that the department ensure that the Turkish president understands the First Amendment rights of Americans, in allowing them to protest “peacefully and without violence.”
“During past visits by the Turkish president, Americans exercising their First Amendment rights were assaulted by President Erdogan’s security detail,” the letter reads. “This is unacceptable and cannot happen again.”
“While President Erdogan has been successful in rolling back the freedoms of the Turkish people, he does not get to exercise his authoritarian will in our nation’s capital.”
A letter was also sent to the Metro Police Department of the District of Columbia urging officers to protect any protestors.
During Erdogan’s visit in May of 2017, protests over his visit turned ugly and 11 protestors were injured. Fifteen of the 19 people indicted following the fracas were members of Erdogan’s security detail.
This is the United States of America. We do not do this here. There is no excuse for this kind of thuggish behavior. https://t.co/WsIln8gOX5— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 17, 2017
“As a veteran, I know the sacrifices made by our military to protect America and its values abroad,” Crenshaw said in a statement. “One of those core values is freedom of speech and assembly. It should be respected by all Americans, but especially by any visiting foreign leader. While Erdogan has rejected these freedoms in Turkey, he and his security detail must abide by them here. His ability to act as an authoritarian ruler ends when he sets foot on American soil.”