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Turkey’s thugs in Washington

For the second time in as many years, Turkish security officers attacked Turkish protesters and other bystanders in Washington, DC. Last year, the venue was the Brookings Institution[1], where members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan s entourage tried to forcibly remove invited guests and journalists whom they believed might ask tough questions. That the guards came prepared to intercept certain people shows a degree of planning that makes what already was a bad situation even worse.

Turkey's Thugs In Washington

Turkey s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves as he arrives at the entrance to the West Wing to meet with President Donald Trump at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts. This year, the attack happened outside the Turkish ambassador s home, where the Atlantic Council had handpicked a friendly audience to engage with Erdogan. The video of the attack is disturbing and appears to show Erdogan watching[2] the charge of some security guards into the crowd to beat, strangle, and stomp on demonstrators. Unlike at Brookings, videos show not only security guards involved in the melee, but also at least one journalist[3] from Turkey s state-controlled outlets like Anadolu Agency.
At the very least, every Erdogan guard accompanying the president on his trip to Washington should be blacklisted from the United States for life. Fool me once, fool me twice, but do not fool me a third time.
The initial State Department response was weak. Yes, many in Erdogan s entourage have diplomatic immunity, but diplomatic immunity can be waived. And if the Turkish ambassador chooses not to do so, there can be consequences such as declaring certain officials persona non grata and demanding they leave Washington. Turkish journalists who participated in the ruckus should face their day in court and, if found guilty, should serve their sentence in prison for assault. And, at the very least, every Erdogan guard accompanying the president on his trip to Washington should be blacklisted from the United States for life. Fool me once, fool me twice, but do not fool me a third time. The problem here is deeper than a single incident. As the antics of Erdogan s aides and the Turkish Embassy in Washington escalate and if the State Department does nothing significant to address the problem Washington could one day soon see a situation reminiscent of the 1984 Yvonne Fletcher murder in London. In that case, a British police woman securing a protest at the Libyan Embassy to the United Kingdom was shot and killed[4] by a gunmen from inside the embassy who was shielded by Libyan claims of immunity. Congress is also at fault. Congressmen and senators joining the Congressional Turkey Caucus[5] through their membership endorse Erdogan s actions.

With regard to autocrats, weakness encourages misbehavior. No longer is the issue Turkish diplomatic sensitivity. When it comes to Americans safety at home, security and lawfulness are issues the State Department should never sacrifice.

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References

  1. ^ venue was the Brookings Institution (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ show Erdogan watching (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ also at least one journalist (twitter.com)
  4. ^ shot and killed (news.nationalpost.com)
  5. ^ Congressional Turkey Caucus (www.aei.org)

High-Tech Security Robot Patrolling Prudential Center

BOSTON (CBS) A unique looking addition to the Prudential Center had shoppers taking a second look on Thursday.

Nobody knew exactly what it was, said recent Northeastern University graduate and Prudential Center mall shopper Ana Hurtado.

It s got cameras, it s always flashing, described Mouhamad Alnajjar who works inside the Pru. A new high-tech security guard named K-5 is now patrolling the mall halls.

A lot of people were taking pictures with it, putting their arms around it, said Alnajjar. I think it s awesome. It reminds me a lot of Star Wars, laughed Hurtado. I actually tried to talk to it.

High-Tech Security Robot Patrolling Prudential Center

Prudential shoppers pose for a photo with a high-tech security robot. (WBZ-TV)

I ve never seen anything like that and we need it in this day and age, something monitoring what s going on out here, said Boston native and shopper Rachel Silva. Monitoring is exactly what the robot does. K-5 is short for Knightscope-5, named after the developer.

K-5 rolled out this week through a pilot program partnership between Allied Universal Security and the Pru. It sends 24-hour information to a security command center like high definition images and video. K-5 also uses sensors and lasers.. to detect heat.. and even carbon monoxide levels.

I thought it was amazing, said Silva.

High-Tech Security Robot Patrolling Prudential Center

A security robot at the Prudential Center. (WBZ-TV)

There was this kid who just kept playing with it and the robot come to like hug them and I thought that was cute, added Hurtado. However, not everyone shared the same sentiment.

I m not sure what it was. I stood far away from it. It looks pretty intense, Alnajjar said with a laugh.

Alnajjar is one of many employees working inside the Pru who received an email about the security robots.

I thought it was going to be a small little creature but yeah it s pretty big. It s up to me so it s probably up to here. Several K-5s launched in California a year ago. Massachusetts is the second state to test run the robot. With a monthly leasing cost of about $8,000, Allied Universal Security says it s designed to help out human security guards and not replace them.

Oh never, never, we ll never be replaced. God no, laughed Silva.

The pilot program is expected to run until August 2017.

MetroLink faces accusations that guards are impersonating police officers

The St. Louis County Police Department is investigating at least seven claims that security guards on MetroLink trains and platforms acted like police officers allegations the Bi-State Development Agency, which runs the transportation system, denies. The department wrote its first report about a MetroLink guard attempting to make an arrest on April 8, St. Louis County Police spokesman Sgt. Shawn McGuire said Tuesday, though incidents are alleged to have happened before that. The security guards are not licensed as officers by the state and therefore don t have authority to arrest anyone.

We don t want to confuse the general public, McGuire said, noting that the guards are wearing uniforms and carrying badges that make them look like county officers. The general public knows what a policeman is, and what they do, and we want them to know that if they are in grave danger that this is a police officer, not a security officer. The guards are employed directly by Bi-State and aren t the contracted private security company employees.

Bi-State CEO John Nations denied the allegations in letters to state and county officials.

Bi-State Development has not created, and is not attempting to create, a police department, and we are not employing peace officers in any manner on than through contracts as mentioned in your letter, Nations wrote to St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch and state public safety director Drew Juden in April, after the two men raised concerns about the allegations. Nations also said Bi-State will change the uniforms in order to avoid confusion.

Powers of MetroLink officers

The federal legislation that established the Bi-State Development Agency in 1950 left in question the level of MetroLink officers power in, considering it didn t give the agency any authority to crack down on fare evasion or other rule violations. In the early 1990s, the Missouri and Illinois legislatures acted to grant Bi-State the authority to employ personnel to maintain safety and order and to enforce Agency rules and regulations. Congress authorized the move[1] in April 1996.

Because the agency covers two states, courts have ruled[2] that individual state laws can t be enforced against Bi-State. So, what isn t clear is whether Missouri can demand that Bi-State guards meet the state s licensing requirements for peace officers. In a legal memo[3] to Bi-State in late April, attorneys with a St. Louis-based law firm wrote that specific questions would have to be considered on an individual basis. However, it is clear that generally, the Agency [Bi-State], as an interstate compact agency, is not subject to the jurisdiction of one single state or state entity. It was not immediately clear why Bi-State had requested the legal memo, or if they planned a lawsuit to keep the Department of Public Safety from enforcing the licensing restrictions based on the information in the memo.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann[4]

References

  1. ^ authorized the move (www.congress.gov)
  2. ^ courts have ruled (www.leagle.com)
  3. ^ legal memo (www.documentcloud.org)
  4. ^ @rlippmann (twitter.com)
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