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Glendale Armenians Should Teach a Lesson to Americana Shopping Mall Executives

 

Three years ago, on the eve of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, Americana shopping mall officials in Glendale, Calif., illegally and in an arrogant manner banned the sale of Armenian Genocide-related T-shirts by three young Armenians who had signed a contract, disclosed their merchandise in advance, and paid the rent for a cart on the property.

The Americana at Brand (Photo: Fourbyfourblazer)

Afterward, ominously, Doris Nesheiwat, senior director of specialty leasing at Americana, in an email, warned the young Armenians: “Anything genocide themed, sweat shirts, t-shirts, phone covers and anything that has a genocide theme needs to come off the cart completely please.”

After I exposed Americana’s scandalous and unwarranted behavior in a column, and after complaints from the local Armenian community, Americana issued a halfhearted apology by describing the ugly incident as a “misunderstanding,” and allowed the young Armenians to sell their T-shirts.

The Armenian community, which numbers close to 100,000—half of Glendale’s population and a big portion of Americana’s shoppers—needs to know in a definitive way what is causing Americana executives to repeatedly take positions against publicizing the Armenian Genocide. Being smart businessmen, they must realize that it is counterproductive to antagonize the majority of their customers by taking offensive positions on the Armenian Genocide.

In recent weeks, Americana executives once again took a hostile position by refusing to provide advertising space on their billboard for an Armenian Genocide documentary, “Architects of Denial,” produced by Hollywood celebrities Dean Cain and Montel Williams.

This time again, Americana officials came up with a nonsensical and offensive reason for rejecting the paid ad. Americana’s outdoor media agency, Outfront Media, told the documentary producers that Americana executives feel, without having seen the documentary, it is “too political.” This is outrageous! A documentary on the Armenian Genocide cannot be labeled as “too political.” This is a human rights issue which has nothing to do with politics!

When I learned that Julie Jauregui, Americana’s general manager, was the one who used the term “too political” in rejecting the ad, I called her asking for an explanation. In response, I received an email from Emily Davis, responsible for Americana’s public relations and communications, stating: “We have strict standards for our advertisements and we carefully review all content. This did not comply with the advertising guidelines for our portfolio properties throughout Southern California.”

This carefully crafted statement is completely meaningless. Thus, I wrote back to Emily Davis, wondering how could the advertising for this documentary “not comply” with Americana’s “strict standards for advertisements,” when in fact Americana’s executives had neither seen the documentary nor the text of the billboard ad before rejecting it. The only information Americana officials knew was that this ad was for an Armenian Genocide documentary. I asked Davis if she implied that the topic of the Armenian Genocide itself violates Americana’s “strict standards for advertisement.” After mulling over her reply for three days and consulting her senior colleagues, Davis responded that they are sticking to their previous answer.

Reaching a dead-end with Americana, I had no choice but to take the matter to the Glendale City Council last week, where four of the five Council members are Armenians. This fact alone, well-known to Americana executives, was another serious miscalculation by them, since they are legally obligated to adhere to scores of agreements they have signed with the city in return for generous subsidies and lavishly advantageous lease considerations. Any deviation from these legal obligations could force the city to take decisive action against Americana to enforce the signed agreements.

In my public remarks to the city council, I urged the city to arrange a meeting with Americana executives and local Armenian community leaders to resolve this issue. Otherwise, the community would have no choice but to resort to protests and boycotts. Joining me in addressing the City Council was Margarita Baghdasaryan, community outreach director, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Glendale chapter.

The city council members were naturally sympathetic to our presentations and promised to intervene by arranging a meeting with Americana executives. The purpose of the meeting is not only to straighten out this latest wrong-headed decision but also to get to the bottom of what is behind the repeated rejections of Armenian Genocide materials by Americana officials. We need to settle this issue once and for all! We cannot continue to deal with genocide-related objections raised by Americana periodically. We need to know what is the root cause of this repeated insensitive and insulting behavior of Americana officials. If they continue to take a hostile position on the Armenian Genocide issue, maybe hitting them in the pocketbook through protests and boycotts, as well as city council enforcement, would bring Americana executives to their senses!

34 Comments on Glendale Armenians Should Teach a Lesson to Americana Shopping Mall Executives

  1. You Armenians in California amaze me. We in Canada with our proportionally tiny population have Genocide recognition in all levels of Government. No business in Canada would get away with what the Americana is doing to you. With your huge population and economic might you are being stymied by a business that depends on you for its success. Boycott the Mall and you will see how fast it gets into line.

    • Harut Sassounian is a great person. Thank you for being there and fighting for all the Armenians. God bless you and the Armenians around the world.

  2. Armenians should just execute a guerrilla marketing campaign with posters plaster all over the Americana. Who is to stop us.

  3. Harut Sassounian’s always-refreshing, common-sense boldness should not surprise me, but sometimes it does. He has clearly defined this issue and has taken steps himself. It’s the action and the type of action that impresses me. There is something to be said for the wisdom of a well-educated, experienced activist journalist in the Armenian Community. I have been following his work since the 1980s. He remains one of a kind. I look forward to seeing how this issue develops.

  4. Thank You Harut for following up with the absurdity of Americana executives. It has to be brought to their attention that Armenian Genocide is not political, it is part of history that the whole world needs to learn from. it is the civic and cultural responsibility of any corporation to promote human rights activities. Their reputation will benefit from right decisions made regarding the billboard.

  5. avatar Antranik. antranik // August 8, 2017 at 3:07 pm // Reply

    It is totally unacceptable for Americana’s management the reject any any efforts that strives to bring awareness to the Armenianian Genoside periodic memorials. To find the real reasons behind Americana’s continues negative interact with the Armenian case (Genoside) is necassery; or possibly face the consequences of the boycott.

  6. avatar henrik zargarian // August 8, 2017 at 5:25 pm // Reply

    maybe turkey politician behind this corruption ????

  7. avatar henrik zargarian // August 8, 2017 at 5:28 pm // Reply

    I believe turkey politician behind this corruption at Americana

    • While i was going through all comments the motive of our Armenians positive that we have to unite and hold Americana responsible not to interfere in our Armenian Genocide with the politics, so i fully agree with henrik zargarian’s comment that ‘i do too believe turkey politician behind this corruption at Armericana as i lately read that Turkey ishiring tns of people with extreme millions of dollars for lobyists. We are free to talk about our pain of 1915 Genocide in Canada to other than Armenians as our Government legally Recognized it ad even sorking to list them in carriculum of Governmentschools apart from Armenian for all people learn something that never happens or take place regardless in any race or nation around the world. VIVA CANADA—MERCI CANADA

  8. My Dear, I agree with you.

  9. avatar Varoujan deirmenjian. // August 8, 2017 at 9:03 pm // Reply

    Americana is wrong they should apologize not only to Armenian’s they should do also American natives, Palesdenian and Jewish people,and do at one present of they profit to this cause.

  10. avatar Victor Martinez // August 8, 2017 at 9:16 pm // Reply

    If they were selling T Shirts on the Holocaust, would that be too political? I can’t believe Armenians are still going there.

  11. avatar Victor Martinez // August 8, 2017 at 9:19 pm // Reply

    Armenians should insist on a special day set asside at the Americana to comemorarate the massacres.

    • I got to be honest the whole world already knows the Armenian genocide. We need to look at things outside the box. Like they says half of the Armenians in Glendale are Armenian. We don’t need to put up a billboard for ourselves, we need to put up a billboard more closer to the capital and the White House. Let’s not get upset at Americana and stur up the hornets nest. I got to be honest the Americana seems to have a lot of power and we don’t need to bring this kind of attention to ouselves getting the city council involved. If you like to shop there or not that’s up to you. I like to hangout there watch the water fountains and dine in the Cheesecake Factory. Also enjoy the company of beautiful women around. That’s all.

    • avatar Novellian // August 16, 2017 at 3:19 pm //

      I couldn’t agree with that statement more!

  12. we have to be United in case this issue does not get solved.

  13. please stay vigil…
    Good job

  14. If you want real change start by not being to nice to this place we start by graffiti on walls trash on side walks calling BBB with compliance and bad review comets on its website

  15. In this article you have clearly supported the Americanas view point of “too political”. There is a large Armenian population in Glendale but Glendale is not Armenia, and the rest of the surrounding cities and customers are not all Armenian. I personally support your right to sell merchandise within your own businesses but as the Americana is for all to enjoy and relax and is more a place for entertainment than a place to showcase Genocide. Which is an emotionally charged issue for all people of any culture. I know about it, I sympathize with the issue but this is a political topic as not all Americans share the same view point as you and we all know when there are differences of opinion it can get controversial. I would also like to comment that mentioning all but one of the City counsel is Armenian sounds like a stacked deck and has a very biased ring to your article. In closing when you push this you open up for others to bring their suffering to light. Ie. The Holocaust. Hiroshima and others to a Place that no one wants to dwell on atrocities committed in this world.

    • The advertisement in question is for a movie, specifically a documentary. If it turns out that Americana has always refused all film advertisements, then we cannot claim that an unreasonable distinction is being made here.

      The title of the film does not mention the word Genocide. The title is “Architects of Denial.” My impression is that the Americana is enacting an informal speech code. They assert that speech which is upsetting (to denialists) should not be present.

      The community should boycott this Center for a trial period – maybe Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, this will hurt the workers, many of whom are Armenians, and it will harm the tenants, who did not make this decision.

      Americana should not be viewed as pro-Denial, or pro-Turkish government. Shopping centers want no potential visitor to be scared away or alienated, so they routinely want to ban anything they think is controversial, such as animal rights protesters who denounce furs, enviro protesters who denounce almost everything, and anti-abortion protesters, who like to display images of fetuses. A few years ago the Larouchies liked to show images of Obama w a Hitler moustache. It is this general squeamishness that the Centers always exhibit. That is why our reps to the Americana should show them that this is historical fact beyond genuine dispute, and that the documentary is educational and that its advertisement is not likely to offend anyone.

    • avatar Berch Papikyan // August 9, 2017 at 1:06 pm //

      This was a very well calculated and a very intelligent point of view, coming from a person who is clearly not aware of what it means to have lost family members to slaughter and destruction. Nobody is asking to place thousands of photographs of the Armenians murdered and decapitated all around the Americana. What they are asking for is to place an advertisement poster of a documentary film covering the events commonly known, and actively denied as the Armenian Genocide. There is no political agenda, just an enlightening of the ignorant masses. So before you write about a topic which is not your cause, think of the prople whose cause you are interfering with. And the fact that 4/5 city council members are Armenian is not a stacked deck, it is fair representation of the voting population. It would be ridiculous for me to say that the city council of Bell being 7/7 Hispanic is somehow a stacked deck.

    • Your point is nonsense. This mall is clearly in an mostly all Armenian district and 2nd Hiroshima or the Holocaust isn’t denied by the American corrupt US State department supporting the lie on behalf of the perpetrating Turks.. Armenian are fight for justice since the destruction of the Armenian nation and creation of Turkey with its blatant DENIAL! Its only ’emotionally charged’ because of that… Get a clue. As Armenian I would boycott that mall completely and even picket it.

    • While I appreciate your attempt to be unbiased, it is important to note that information about a genocide is not a “political topic”. It is just this type of thinking that opens the door and allows outrageous actions, like genocide, to occur in the first place. If facts are to be labeled as a “political topic”, then we have crossed a point in which we cannot talk about anything.

    • Berg,

      You make assumptions about me which are incorrect. I am Armenian. My family, especially on the paternal side, was largely destroyed. The maternal side was dispossessed of great wealth and lands, never to recover. That side also lost many people. But whether I am Armenian or not, the grandson of the dead or not, the points remain valid.

      I am very familiar with how shopping centers operate. My guess is that they over-reacted because the movie title does not even say anything they might find controversial. On the other hand, if the Americana Board never advertises movies of any kind, we cannot say they are anti-Armenian.

      Harut has made a big deal of this. Now the enemy knows about the issue, and they will press the Americana never to allow the ad.

      It would have been far smarter for ANC and the Armenian clergy to approach Americana quietly to explain things without making everything a big public issue.

      We should pick only the public fights we can win.

  16. Turkish lobbyists go as high as a monkey called Flynn who was the US Attorney General . Erdogan the new Sultan of Turkey or any other present or past Turkish governments are pouring millions and millions of dollars to all areas in America for the purpose of enforcing the denial of the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian population of Glendale and all other areas in America should stand fiercely and firmly against this lobbying. No excuse should be accepted. They can organize demonstrations and boycotts across America.
    We are not the hungry Armenians anymore, our strength and resolve is unbeatable. The children of Genocide and their brethren will prevail over Genicde deniers.

  17. When half the population of Glendale is Armenian, Americana should either respect the Armenians and their issues, or else get the hell out of the Glendale! They have no business in Glendale if they are prejudiced against Armenians. The like our money but they do not like us!!! The Armenian community should be smart and united to teach them a lesson not to be forgotten!

  18. I don’t believe any self-respecting Armenian should patronize a business with this sort of behavior. Just don’t shop there until they change their tune! I certainly wouldn’t if I lived there. California has no shortage of shopping options.

  19. honestly Americana has got to stop their excuses, especially since the majority of their visitors are Armenian. Anytime my friends and/or family hang out, we plan to go to Americana because it’s so convenient. Maybe we should find another place that’s just as or more convenient to give them a little wake up call

  20. avatar Alec derhovanessian // August 10, 2017 at 4:47 pm // Reply

    Looks like it’s time to discuss this matter on Armenian TV stations and let the general public be aware of what is going on.

  21. avatar Sevan budda Kevorkian // August 12, 2017 at 12:08 am // Reply

    Someone should organize a 100,000 person march against the Americana.
    Then don’t shop there and see if they go out of business! Show them we won’t stand for racism at any level.

  22. avatar Hovik Abrahamian // August 12, 2017 at 5:10 am // Reply

    Seriously how much racism,jealousy and hate does the government of America and its people have towards Armenians

    What a hater America and the Americana is.

    The government of America denies the Armenian Genocide for more than 100 years know and know the Armeicana.

    Wow what a loser and disgraceful nation America has become .

    Know we can see why so many country’s hate America .

    They should sanction and punish the USA for its lies and mistreatment of cultures.

  23. avatar John Vartanian // August 13, 2017 at 6:28 am // Reply

    We should have an Armenian Lives Matter campaign going.Its time us Armenian stand up to our haters and enemies once and for all.

    Power to the Armenian people.

  24. While I am in full agreement with the continuing plyth and movement regarding the denial of the Armenian Genocide. This is a government and community issue. Let US continue to press our State and Federal offices for what is long overdue!
    A NATIONAL acknowledgement, honoring the lives lost, while factually acknowledging Turkey as the perpetrators of this genocidal atrocity!

    The Americana is not the enemy people! They are A local business, marketed to be A “Disneyland style, happiest place on earth” shopping center! A day long escape,for fun, family and friends, to shop, gather and enjoy! Thats ALL! They are not involved in this, neither is DISNEY in Burbank!

  25. Is half population is Armenian, why waste your advertising money in Americans? I would go elsewhere and educate others. Most Armenians will watch the documentary anyways.

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