BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS) - Police who are investigating a possible hate crime incident are looking for six to eight people accused of ransacking a Turkish restaurant and making pro-Armenia comments. At least one employee was injured.
Cameras inside Café Istanbul captured vandals destroying the popular Beverly Hills Turkish restaurant that has been a staple for eight years.
Police say a group of at least eight Armenian-Americans tore up the restaurant Wednesday evening while they were open.
“They grabbed some chairs from the interior and the owners were sitting right there. They threw chairs at the owners,” an employee said. Employees followed the men outside, where they were attacked again.
A worker, who did not want to give his name for security reasons, said they believe the attack was planned: “They were saying, ‘We are here to kill Turks and we hate you guys, you guys must die,’ and a lot of other death threats.”
There has been a long-standing, tense relationship between Armenians and Turks. Most recently, hundreds gathered in Beverly Hills for protests centered around the Armenian and Azerbaijan conflict, with Turkey being an ally of Azerbaijan.
Employees of this family-owned business said they’ve been receiving threats for weeks, even though they have not been vocal politically and have business partners and customers who are Armenian.
They just want the violence to stop.
“We are a small business. We’re barely ... trying to keep business with COVID and now this is adding on top, causing more distraction. We were closed today and we’re closed yesterday. And I don’t know when we’re going to open,” an employee said.
The owners are still trying to determine exactly how much damage was done, but say it will be a few days before they’re able to reopen.