Following an hours-long debate and heated and passionate pleas from Greek, Turkish and Armenian Americans before the Carson City Council, the body representing the Los Angeles-area municipality voted unanimously to oppose erection of of a statue of Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk.
The motion was brought to the floor following loud protests from both sides and a series of speakers who recounted stories from their families. The controversial move to build a statue in the city’s International Sculpture Park drew international attention to the region.
One speaker, Aris Anagnos, representing Greek Americans in the audience spoke passionately against the proposed statue, asking the city council why they would erect a statue representing a leader of a country that fought against the United States in two world wars. Several Armenian Americans recalled stories of brutality perpetrated by Ataturk’s forces against their families.
Representatives of the Turkish side called Ataturk a visionary and a leader who brought reform and democracy to Turkey.
Mayor Zareh Sinanyan of nearby Glendale, California addressed the floor and concluded his statement by stating ”If you put Ataturk in that Sculpture Park, you should also find a place for Pohl Pot and Hitler,” a reference to the Cambodian and Nazi German leaders who committed atrocities and genocide in their respective countries.