LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Authorities Thursday morning announced that three reported assaults during a large demonstration staged by an Armenian group near the Azerbaijani Consulate in Brentwood are being investigated as hate crimes.
Fistfights broke out and one officer was injured during Tuesday's demonstration in the 11700 block of Wilshire Boulevard and the violence spilled into surrounding streets.
Officers set up a scrimmage line to keep demonstrators out of the streets, said Los Angeles Police Department Officer Mike Lopez, adding one officer suffered a laceration and was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Lopez said one person was arrested on suspicion of assault on a police officer.
Three Azerbaijani victims reported assaults to police, which are being investigated as hate crimes. The victims sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the altercation and received medical treatment at a hospital, according to a statement from the department.
Demonstration organizer Alex Galitsky of the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region told City News Service he was not aware of any injuries, but "we've seen small scuffles breaking out."
Galinski estimated the crowd at 3,000, noting the Los Angeles region has the largest Armenian community in the world outside of Armenia. Police put the number of Armenian protesters at 500 and a group of 30-50 Azerbaijani counter-protesters.
ANCAWR was protesting alleged "unprovoked Azerbaijani belligerence" toward Armenia in their shared border region around Armenia's northern province of Tavush, which began July 12.
"The Armenian people are fighting for their right to self- determination," Galinsky said. He called the border fighting "a blatant act of aggression and an act of war" while the world was preoccupied with COVID- 19.
On July 16, the Azerbaijan Minister of Foreign Affairs countered: "The only cause of tension in the region is Armenia, which holds Nagorno- Karabakh and seven surrounding regions of Azerbaijan under military occupation, violates the fundamental rights and freedoms of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis and directly impedes the settlement of the conflict through negotiations."
Anyone with information about the reported assaults was asked to call West Los Angeles Major Assault Crimes detectives at 310-444-1531.
Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at lacrimestoppers.org.