Thousands of Armenians crowded the streets of Hollywood Wednesday to march for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and to demand justice for the 1.5 million people killed in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks.
According to police estimates, about 3,500 people were present in the district of Little Armenia in Hollywood for the march organized by the United Armenian Students, going the two-mile distance holding banners, chanting, and singing.
Streets had to be blocked off the ways between Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards and between Hobart Boulevard and Western Avenue to allow for the moving crowds.
As the march commenced around 11 am, people of all ages dressed in black were present to walk under any condition. Despite the rain beginning to fall at the march’s start, people continued to walk.
“It gave people a lot more energy,” said Christina Kegeyan, Public Relations chairperson of the Advisory Board of the U.A.S. “It became a lot more sentimental when those people continued to march even though it was raining.”
The marchers met speeches at their trail’s end. “Our land was taken from us,” Archbishop Vatche Hovsepyan of the Armenian Apostolic Church reminded them.
“We were massacred on our lands.”
A representative from Gov. Gray Davis’ office announced that the state recognized April 24th as a day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide.
After the march, a “Protest Against Inhumanity” organized by the Armenian Youth Federation was held from 4 to 6 p.m. in front of the Turkish Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard.
People marched up and down the block holding signs that read “Turkey guilty of Genocide” and “We Want Justice.”
Protestors were handed crosses with flowers painted black to carry.
A three-mile “March for Humanity,” taking about 300 youths to the Turkish Consulate for a candlelight vigil on Sunday, made one of the local events in the days before April 24.
“[The genocide] was done against our ancestors, but the bigger issue is that it was done against humanity,” said Ara Khachtourian, editor of Asbarez newspaper. “Before we are Armenians, we are humans.”
On Tuesday, various colleges and universities, among them Cal State University of Northridge and University of California at Los Angeles, held various commemoration ceremonies. Ferrahian Armenian School in Encino also held a youth rally organized by A.Y.F. later that day.
Ardashes Kassakhian, Armenian National Committee Government Relations Director for the Western Region was present for most of the events and ended his speech Wednesday by saying “We will achieve recognition, and we will achieve it in our lifetime.”