A crackdown by police against protesters, who were part of a peaceful sit-in that was protesting the government’s plans to raise a park, ignited Turkey’s biggest riots in Istanbul in more than 10 years.
Demonstrators were clashing with police in the largest city in Turkey on Friday and that ignited riots in several other cities, including Izmir a port city and the capital city of Ankara.
Crowds started gathering during the predawn hours of Saturday across the center of Istanbul. The protesters were shouting “government resign” and “against fascism.”
Shortly thereafter police in riot gear responded by sending volleys of tear gas towards the protesters.
Security forces continued to fire the tear gas at the demonstrators throughout much of Saturday in Istanbul.
For nearly 24 hours there has been a toxic fog continuing pepper spray and tear gas hanging over the Taksim Square in the middle of Istanbul.
The city is the major commercial district and transport hub of the country but now has become the scene of the biggest clashes between the angry protesters and police forces. The protesters threw bottles and rocks at police.
The police allowed some groups to walk in the square, but any time over 100 people in one group started to congregate, the authorities started shooting water cannons causing bystanders to flee and scream for cover.
At early light Saturday, protestors could be seen walking across the first bridge dividing the Asian and European halves of the city over the Bosphorus Strait.
Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally broke his silence over the protest on Saturday. The prime minister vowed not to back down to protestors.
He said the police were there on Friday, Saturday and tomorrow if necessary because Taksim Square is not a place that allows marginal groups to roam freely.