SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Lines wrapped around the block outside San Francisco City Hall on Friday night as people marked 100 years since the Armenian genocide.

City Hall was packed, not for a gala or celebration, but a remembrance. “One hundred years have gone by, but no one has forgotten what has happened – the consequences continue to be felt,” said David Balabanian, who attended Friday’s event.

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It was 100 years ago Friday that the then Ottoman Empire began a systemic slaughter that left 1.5 million Armenians dead.

Recognition of this genocide that predated The Holocaust hasn’t been easy to come by. Pope Francis recently called the slaughter “the first genocide of the 20th century.”

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“There are about one billion Catholics on earth and I view the recognition by the Pope as being very important,” said Dr. Stephan Astourian.

Despite a campaign promise, President Barack Obama has not used the word genocide.

But inside City Hall, amongst a sea of purple forget-me-nots, the atrocities were acknowledged.

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Most historians said what happened to the Armenians was indeed genocide. The Turkish government adamantly denies it was genocide, and said Armenians were victims of the chaos of the collapsing Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I.