Police are investigating the hanging of several Turkish flags outside two Armenian schools in the Los Angeles area early Tuesday as possible hate crimes, authorities said, according to Fox News.
The flags were found at the AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School in Canoga Park and Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School in Encino. The incident in Canoga Park was being called a hate incident, and the one in Encino was recorded as a hate crime, the Los Angeles Police Department told the Los Angeles Times.
“It came as a complete shock and surprise in the sense we weren’t expecting it,” said Arpi Avanesian, principal of AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School, where Turkish flags were found. “I don’t know what this person was thinking about. Why today? What set them off to do this? What doesn’t shock me is they did it.”
“It is the equivalent of putting a Nazi swastika on the side of a Jewish school,” Paul Koretz, a city councilman, said at a news conference. “It is outrageous, and we are not going to stand for it as a city.”
Members of the Armenian community have called the display of the flags an act of hate. They believe its intention was to intimidate the community and discredit the Armenian genocide, which saw as many as 1.5 million Armenians rounded up and killed by the Ottoman Turkish government beginning in 1915.
US Rep. Brad Sherman, who represents the San Fernando Valley, condemned the vandalism in a statement Tuesday.
“It is particularly cruel to those whose family members died in the Armenian genocide,” Sherman said. “I call on law enforcement to make arresting the vandals a high priority.”
The flags were removed on both campuses by the time students arrived, the paper reported.