By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) –  On Saturday, President Joe Biden became the first US President to formally recognize the  hundreds of thousands of killings and deportations of Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century as “genocide.”

Tens of thousands of Armenian Americans take to the streets of Los Angeles on April 24, 2015, to march for justice and in memory of victims of the Armenian genocide. The event marks the centenary of the massacre of some 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces.

FILE — Thousands of people march in Hollywood, Calif., to mark the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. April 24, 2017. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Former presidents have avoided using the term for fear of alienating Turkey, a US ally.

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Biden used a presidential proclamation to mark the announcement Saturday. April 24 is the annual commemoration of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Los Angeles is home to the largest population of people of Armenian descent outside of Armenia and has regularly hosted large marches to remember the tragic events from 1915 to 1923 as a calculated effort to wipe out Armenians.

“Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, 1.5 million Armenians were deported, massacred or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination. We honor the victims of Meds Yeghem so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms,” Biden said in an official White House statement.

The Turkish Consulate in LA retweeted the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey.

“‘Words cannot change or rewrite history,'” the Minister tweeted. “We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice. We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism.”

Some hours after Biden’s Armenian genocide proclamation, the Consul General of Turkey in Los Angeles, Can Oguz, responded to CBSLA’s request for comment about the president’s remarks and protests outside its consulate at 8500 Wilshire Blvd., in Beverly Hills.

“Turkey vehemently rejects today’s statement by the President of the U.S., which lacks scholarly and legal basis. “Genocide” is a specific crime, not a generic term, defined by international law. None of the conditions defined by the international law have been met that would warrant the use of “genocide” concerning the events of 1915. Today’s statement will hurt our bilateral relations and undermine dialogue efforts for peace and stability in the region,” Oguz said in an email to CBSLA.

A march and rally is planned for 12 p.m. on Saturday outside of the Turkish Consulate, with BHPD saying there are possible street closures in the area from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The City of Glendale will be conducting a virtual event that will be live-streamed on the city’s Facebook and Instagram pages at 7 p.m.

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