Florida Media Outlets Report on Local Armenian American Community’s Response to Biden’s Genocide Declaration
BOCA RATON, FL – As all eyes were on the White House last month, the Armenian American community was hyper mobilized in pressing the White House to fulfill President Biden’s pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide as President on April 24.
With all signs pointing in the right direction and anticipation of the President’s genocide declaration building by the day, two Florida media outlets covered the local Armenian American community’s response.
“Florida Armenians here and across the state welcomed President Joe BIden’s recognition of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day April 24” The Boca Voice posted on their Facebook page.
Later in the day, a headline from the Tampa Bay Times read “Biden’s recognition of genocide brings Florida’s Armenians relief.” Tampa Bay Times‘ breaking news reporter Josh Fiallo’s heartfelt reporting was the first major Florida newspaper to cover the President’s historic statement.
On Sunday, April 25, the Times devoted another story to the local Armenian American community on the west coast of Florida. Reporting “Genocide victims remembered on Red Sunday at Pinellas Armenian Church,” Times reporter Anastasia Dawson went to St. Hagop Armenian Church in Pinellas Park and spoke with Rev. Fr. Hovnan Demerjian and several parishioners.
“Demerjian, pastor at St. Hagop’s, called Biden’s statement ‘the healing of a wound’ that was a ‘long time in the making,'” he told the Tampa Bay Times. =
While no other newspaper or media outlet in Florida covered President Biden’s acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide (reprinting the AP doesn’t count), Armenian Americans in Florida should be pleased to know that the Tampa Bay Times, that state’s largest newspaper, gave them ample coverage and connected with St. Hagop’s parishioners, and that our local reporters and outlets like the The Boca Voice truly listen to their community members and amplify their stories.
WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Earlier today, President Joe Biden became the first U.S. President to properly recognize the World War I era mass killings of Armenians and other Christians by the Ottoman Turkish Empire as genocide.
“Today is #ArmenianGenocide Remembrance Day, commemorating the 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in 1915 by the Ottomans, & today @POTUS has made history by becoming the first President to recognize it. This is a major step toward Armenians getting the justice they deserve,” Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL) said on Twitter. Earlier this week, Frankel was one of three Florida Representatives to sign a letter to President Biden urging him to recognize the Armenian Genocide on April 24th.
“It has been more than 100 years since the atrocities committed against innocent Armenians and other ethnic and religious minorities at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire’s genocidal campaign from 1915-1923 killed 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children, as well as Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs, through a series of executions and death marches,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), who serves as Co-Chairman of the Congressional Armenian Caucus. “I whole-heartedly welcome today’s historic announcement from President Biden formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide. I have been a major supporter of recognizing the Ottoman Empire’s atrocious acts as genocide, co-authoring the Armenian Genocide recognition resolution passed by the House of Representatives two years ago. We must acknowledge the atrocities of the past so that we might hopefully prevent them in the future. Our darkest moments as a human race have come during times when those who knew better stood silently, making excuses for passivity and allowing injustice and persecution to reign. Today at 2:30 p.m. I spoke with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia George Kent who confirmed the Administration’s announcement today acknowledging the pain of history to ensure future atrocities do not happen,” Bilirakis said on Saturday.
Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), an active member of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, issued a statement on Twitter, saying “I commend @POTUS Biden for officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Yet over a century later some still minimize the Ottoman Empire’s systematic execution of Armenians. We must honor the victims & survivors, & we must keep its memory alive to prevent history from repeating.”
“President Joe Biden’s deceptively simple action goes beyond what any previous American president has ever been willing to do. The evidence, however, is clear the Turks engaged in a years-long ethnic cleansing campaign that included forced death marches and mass starvation. Recognizing this fact will, hopefully, bring an element of closure to this chapter of history for families impacted by these atrocities,” Palm Beach County Commissioner Robert Weinroth (D-FL) told FLArmenians.com.
Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer told FLArmenians.com, “The White House’s recognition today of the Armenian Genocide is an important step to honor the memory of the many who were killed. To prevent future tragedies, we must never forget those that occurred,” Mayor Singer said. Boca Raton, FL is the second largest city in Palm Beach County and is home to St. David Armenian Church, the first Armenian Church built in Florida and consecrated in 1989.
Responding to the news, Mark Samuelian, Miami Beach City Commissioner told FLArmenians.com, “Having recently visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, President Biden’s historic announcement today delivers profound meaning.” Elected in 2017, Samuelian is the first Armenian American elected official in Miami-Dade County, FL.
*This post was updated on Thursday, April 29, 2021 to reflect the new statements. FLArmenians.com will continue to update this post with new statements from Florida elected officials.
This event will take place in-person and will be virtually broadcast. FLArmenians.com encourages organizers and parishioners who wish to attend in person to follow CDC guidelines and local laws.