“We’re obviously concerned by the incidence of police use of excessive force that took place against some of the participants,” Mark Toner told reporters during the State Department’s daily press briefing. “It is not clear to us why the police acted in this manner.”
Turkish police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons against those who were taking part in the Pride march. Nicholas Sakurai, director of leadership initiatives at the University of Maryland’s LGBT Equity Center, told the Washington Blade from Istanbul where they are on vacation that police officers also used batons against people “who didn’t immediately get out of their way.”
The Istanbul LGBTI Pride Committee, which organized the event, in a press release said local authorities announced “at the last minute” that they had banned the event because of Ramadan.
Istanbul Pride has taken place without incident since 2003.
“Yesterday’s incidences were of concern to us,” said Toner.
Special U.S. Envoy to Promote Global LGBT Rights Randy Berry earlier in the day echoed Toner’s sentiments.
Istanbul Pride is among the dozens of LGBT Pride events that took place around the world and in the U.S. on Sunday.