HomeCity NewsPolice Launch Hate Crime Probe

Police Launch Hate Crime Probe

City officials and police department staff announced an immediate investigation into a possible anti- hate speech incident, and possible crime, during a press conference at Glendale Police Department headquarters on March 31.
Police Captain Robert William relayed details at the news briefing about the posting of flyers, signed “Rabbi,” which state “Israel fully supports our Azeri-Turk Brothers …” in completing the Armenian genocide. The distribution of the divisive flyers is being investigated as a potential hate crime, William said.
Historians have categorized the mass killing of more than an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Turks in the Ottoman Empire as the first genocide of the 20th century.
The captain reported that the flyers were posted on city light poles outside of the St. Mary’s Armenian church sometime before 7 a.m. on March 31.
Eleven flyers were recovered around the church in the 500 block of South Central Avenue by police officers, but William anticipated there could be more. At the time of the press conference, law enforcement searched for one suspect seen posting flyers on surveillance camera footage around the church. The investigation, however, is ongoing and more surveillance footage in respective areas are being reviewed to confirm that, said Sgt. Victor Jackson, GPPD’s public information officer.
The suspect was described by law enforcement personnel as a male individual wearing black clothing carrying a satchel.
“We’re not going to jump to conclusions right now. That’s still a part of our investigation, we don’t know who did this. Just because it says that it’s written by a ‘rabbi,’ it could have been written by anyone, really,” William said.

City Councilwoman Elen Asatryan condemned a hate incident involving flyers containing anti-Armenian sentiments that called for “genocide” during a press conference on March 31.

The Glendale police captain said that the posting of the flyers is being investigated to its “fullest potential” as a crime and, if there are links or proof of “criminal conduct,” then potential prosecution would be sought.
Outgoing Mayor Ardy Kassakhian called the distribution of the flyers a “cowardly act” that is aimed at scaring and intimidating Glendale residents. Kassakhian emphasized that city representatives will continue to speak out and condemn acts of hate speech, crimes and incidents.
“Even after more than a century since the unimaginable atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire through the killing of over 1.5 million innocent Armenians, we continue to witness the efforts by hate groups today which continue to promote the atrocious act of genocide right here in the city of Glendale, home to one of the largest Armenian communities in the United States,” Kassakhian said in a statement.
“The individuals or groups responsible for the posting of these flyers are undoubtably emboldened by the ongoing denial by the Republic of Turkey of the Armenian genocide, as well as the active and current aggression by the government of Azerbaijan against the Armenian people in Artsakh,” he said.
Kassakhian related the hate incident and the reference to the Armenian genocide in 1915 to other historic incidents of persecution, racism and genocide — mentioning Black individuals who were victims of violent hate crimes following the Civil War and Jewish individuals who were targeted during World War II.
The incident, he said, is “just like so many other countless acts of cowards who have tried to scare and intimidate various groups; be they of a different race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or whoever is considered the target of such heinous acts.”
Kassakhian touched on the hate speech flyers’ projection of division between Jewish and Armenian individuals and said, “We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters. Jews and Armenians share a common experience of persecution and genocide and, as such, we must share a common responsibility to speak out against racism, bigotry and intolerance.
“We ask that we do not allow these individuals to succeed by dividing us against one another. But, instead, come together as one city. We are all a part of the same race, the human race, let us try to remember that and engage in acts and speech that reinforces that,” he said.
All City Councilmembers and officials attended the press conference, including Councilwoman Elen Asatryan who correlated the incident to a similar Beverly Hills incident in 2021, when anti-Armenian flyers were posted throughout the L.A. city calling for Turkey, Azerbaijan, Israel and Pakistan to “wipe Armenia off the map,” according to reports on the incident.
William said the GPPD will cross-reference the Glendale incident with Beverly Hills law enforcement’s notes and information gathered during the respective 2021 incident to see if there is any overlap.
Asatryan highlighted that the Beverly Hills flyers were directed at protests surrounding the ongoing blockade of food, medicine and other supplies in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, which is primarily populated by ethnic Armenians. The region is the center of a century-old territorial dispute of ownership between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with conflict recently escalating to disastrous levels in 2020 after an Azerbaijani offensive on the region.
“The inadequate and unacceptable response from Beverly Hills through that incident has undoubtedly emboldened the same or different set of people who escalate the threats and bring them to Glendale,” she said.
“Glendale has no place for hate. … Each person must feel safe in our neighborhoods, in our schools and place of worship.”
Newly appointed Mayor Dan Brotman said he fears that the posting of the flyers in Glendale could trigger copycat hate incidents against various ethnic groups and spoke to a sense
of “sadness” he feels toward the normalization of these incidents.

“As a Jewish American, I noted the supposed signature of the person who did this. We don’t know if it is a person who can call themselves a rabbi. I want to say that this, in no way, shape or form, reflects the sentiments of Jews — in Glendale or anywhere that I know of,” Brotman said.
“As [Kassakhian] said, we share with Armenians the experience of persecution and being a diaspora population. We have a lot of things in common and I would hate to see anything like this create divisions between our groups,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines hate crimes as violent acts of assault, murder, arson, vandalism or threats to commit such crimes that are motivated by prejudice toward race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. The DOJ states that hate crimes may also include conspiracy or another person to commit those crimes, even if the crime was never acted on.
If anyone has information that would assist in the investigation, please contact the Glendale Police Department at (818) 548-4911.

First published in the April 8 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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