August 17, 2017
On Tuesday, August 15, the City of Glendale held its weekly City Council Meeting. The Council Chamber was flooded by over 100 community members, many of who were in attendance to speak out against Caruso Affiliated and the company’s decision to deny billboard space for Architects of Denial, a film about the Armenian Genocide, at The Americana at Brand. The Americana at Brand is a focal point of the City and is located across the street from the space reserved for the Armenian American Museum. Caruso Affiliated had based its decision on classifying the film as “too political.”
Numerous community members and organizations, including the AGBU, conveyed their concerns in front of the Council. The AGBU’s Western District was represented at the meeting by Pasadena-Glendale Chapter Chair, Hrant Vartzbedian, who spoke on behalf of AGBU Western District Chair, Talin Yacoubian. Vartzbedian insisted the City Council urges Caruso Affiliated to reconsider their decision, stating “there are no gray zones” in regards to the Armenian Genocide.
Earlier today, Caruso Affiliated issued a letter to the City of Glendale and the Glendale community acknowledging the comments made during the council meeting and stating “our position on human rights has been misunderstood and for that we apologize.”
Caruso Affiliated also noted that the company will work with the producers of the film to “display the advertisement at The Americana at Brand, at no cost to the producers.”
Upon the release of this letter, State Senator Anthony Portantino, who was present at the meeting, issued the following statement:
“Though not immediate, it was the correct decision. The grassroots advocates who emphasized the significance and symbolism behind the placing of appropriate advertising for the documentary are to be commended for their continued commitment to genocide education and for their civil rights leadership. Let’s be clear, there is only one side, not two sides to recounting the history of the atrocities that began in 1915. The State of California is spending millions of dollars to teach our school children about the first genocide of the 20th century and locally we need our business community to stand with that mission. Today, activists who passionately stood together to generate this outcome deserve our respect and appreciation. I look forward to seeing the billboard go up!”
The AGBU is a founding member of the Governing Board of the Armenian American Museum which will neighbor The Americana at Brand in the near future. The AGBU Western District continues to be active in the community and will not hesitate to act for what is right.