Armenians have a long history as targets of persecution, hatred, and genocide. Unfortunately, this history continues to repeat itself around the world. Armenia is unique in many ways, though one particularly representative characteristic is the fact that more ethnic Armenians currently reside outside of the current borders of Armenia than inside. Ottoman conquests and the genocide of 1915 have driven many Armenian families to flee, leaving a robust diaspora of resettled families throughout the world. One popular destination for these displaced families has been California, which is currently home to the largest Armenian population in the United States.
Although it seemed as though the United States would provide a safe haven for these populations, Turkey and Azerbaijan continued to export their anti-Armenian ideology around the world. In 2020, there were three major hate crimes perpetuated against the Armenian community in San Francisco. The crimes, which will be discussed in more detail in this report, correspond directly with the increased anti-Armenian rhetoric used by Turkish leaders in the leadup to and during the 44-day Karabakh War of 2020.
To investigate the effects of this rhetoric on the San Francisco Armenian community and the recent crimes, ICC sent staff to meet with local community members and leaders there. During this trip, it became clear that there is a real threat to the community within the United States. Despite the long history of anti-Armenian persecution in other parts of the world, such violence against Armenians in the United States is a new development that seems to contradict the perception that the United States is safe from the influence of Turkish and Azerbaijani rhetoric. Armenians who have lived in the U.S. for their entire life without fear of persecution for their Armenian identity now see increased security measures when attending church.