By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Crowds of hundreds gathered Saturday afternoon in Beverly Hills and Hollywood to commemorate the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Attendees were also celebrating a proclamation by President Joe Biden Saturday morning that formally recognized the hundreds of thousands of killings and deportations of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923 as genocide.

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Biden becomes the first US President to make this landmark distinction. Former presidents have avoided using the term “genocide” for fear of alienating Turkey, a US ally.

Armenian-Americans march in protest through the Little Armenia neighborhood of Hollywood, California on April 24, 2018 demanding recognition by Turkey on the 103rd anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide, which Turkey insists did not happen. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

LA is home to more than 200,000 people of Armenia descent, making it the largest population of Armenians outside of Armenia.

At Cedars Sinai Medical Center on Wilshire and La Cienega Boulevards, crowds waved Armenian and American flags. A rally was planned outside the Turkish Consulate at 8500 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hill Police tweeted at 1:22 p.m. that Wilshire Boulevard was temporarily closed in both directions, from La Cienega to Stanley Drive, though it has since been opened.

“The announcement President Biden gave is huge. We welcome his announcement with open arms and commend his administration for making this kind of statement,” said Taleen Nazarian, a rally organzer.

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In Hollywood, another crowd of hundreds converged on Hollywood Boulevard near Western Avenue.

The City of Glendale will also host its 20th annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration event, though virtually, streaming the ceremony on the city’s Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as on its YouTube channel, at 7 p.m.

The Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles released a statement on Biden’s announcement saying in part:

In the difficult days of the Armenian Genocide, the American Government and people selflessly helped and saved many lives from the clutches of death. The message of the US President continues this strong American tradition of standing by truth and justice.

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The recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide is a universal issue of humanity. Today, the US authorities have unequivocally reiterated their commitment to human rights and the principles of humanity.
This statement makes a significant contribution to the global recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the prevention of genocides.