Lawsuit filed against Americana at Brand over Armenian Genocide apparel controversy

Vendor selling apparel marking 1915 Armenian Genocide claims discrimination.

Alex Kodagolian, Tina Chuldzhyan and Armin Hariri, a rapper also known by his stage name "R-Mean," stand across the street from the Americana at Brand after they were told to stop displaying T-shirts referencing the Armenian Genocide on Thursday, March 12, 2015. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer / March 12, 2015)
Alex Kodagolian, Tina Chuldzhyan and Armin Hariri, a rapper also known by his stage name “R-Mean,” stand across the street from the Americana at Brand after they were told to stop displaying T-shirts referencing the Armenian Genocide on Thursday, March 12, 2015. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer / March 12, 2015)

A cart vendor at the Americana at Brand who was allegedly told to remove displays of clothing making reference to the Armenian Genocide has filed a lawsuit against the upscale outdoor mall.

Management officials behind rap label Pentagon Records filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court on March 13 and, in the document, they claim they were discriminated against by the mall’s management.

Pentagon officials started selling clothing out of a cart at the Americana in February. Shortly after setting up shop, they were reportedly told to they could not display items that read either “our wounds are still open 1915” or “we are still here 2015,” though they could still be purchased if customers asked for them.

The order stemmed from shoppers complaining about the clothing.

Americana’s management apologized on its Facebook page, claiming there was a misunderstanding and that the vendor is allowed to display the apparel in question.

However, Tina Chuldzhyan, a production manager for the record label, said in a phone interview on Thursday she has yet to hear that kind of message directly from mall management.

Until then, she said she won’t display the 1915 clothing items.

The goal of the lawsuit, she said, is to get the court to compel the outdoor mall’s management team to allow the display to resume, Chuldzhyan said.

“We want [the] Americana to do something for the community; this goes far past us … it really affected a whole community of people,” she said. “We’re trying to make sure they acknowledge they made a mistake.”

After word got out about the controversy, members of Glendale’s large Armenian community held a silent protest at the Americana, while the mall’s alleged actions drew criticism from Mayor Zareh Sinanyan.

Liz Jaeger, vice president of public relations for Caruso Affiliated, which owns the Americana, declined to comment on the pending litigation.

According to the complaint, Pentagon Records is also seeking damages, but not for itself.

“Although the complaint seeks damages, my clients intend to use the proceeds from this lawsuit to further promote recognition and awareness of the Armenian Genocide,” said Pentagon’s attorney, Richard Foster, in an email.
An order-to-show-cause hearing is scheduled for May 27. [blog_list style=”def” display=”specific” category=”null” specific=”2232″]

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