LA’s big Armenian community marks genocide remembrance day

Apr 24, 2023, 12:39 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The killing and deportation of Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces in the early 1900s was remembered Monday in Southern California, home to an enormous Armenian American community that only recently has been able to celebrate U.S. recognition that the systematic oppression was genocide.

Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day was marked in the Los Angeles region by big rallies and marches long before 2021, when President Joe Biden became the first U.S. president to use the word “genocide” to describe the campaign of violence.

For decades, the White House had avoided using using the term for fear of alienating Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman Empire and a NATO ally. The government of Turkey vehemently rejected Biden’s use of the word.

Biden on Monday issued a statement renewing a pledge to never forget.

“On April 24, 1915, Ottoman authorities arrested Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople — the start of a systematic campaign of violence against the Armenian community. In the years that followed, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths — a tragedy that forever affected generations of Armenian families,” Biden said.

More than 200,000 people of Armenian descent are estimated to live in Los Angeles County, where April is celebrated as Armenian History Month.

The suburban city of Glendale is a center of the community, and a small section of Los Angeles is known as Little Armenia, where a crowd gathered Monday on Hollywood Boulevard.

Traditional annual remembrance activities on or around the day include protests outside the Turkish Consulate in Beverly Hills and a ceremony at the towering Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument on a hilltop in suburban Montebello.

The Glendale and Los Angeles school districts closed schools Monday in observance of the day. Last week, the LA district Board of Education voted to support the inclusion of an Armenian check box on the U.S. Census questionnaire so that officials can better serve the population.

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LA’s big Armenian community marks genocide remembrance day