Today I made my way to Taksim Square and Gezi Park. It’s been a couple days since the protests have flared up, and I figured it was safe to venture to the place where it all began. I met up with my friend Meg for lunch, and then we wandered around the sites for a couple hours, snapping pictures and observing the various changes that had taken place since Friday. Some of it was pretty damn ugly – graffiti was sprayed everywhere, cars and construction equipment were smashed to pieces or burned to ashes, and many areas we passed reeked of urine. Amongst all of that, though, there was some beauty too – peaceful protestors had once again congregated in the park, where they camped, read, played music, danced, and gifted free food and drink to fellow participants.
Turkey’s protests are still in international news, and I’m still getting emails from my embassy warning me about the demonstrations. It’s possible that things will devolve into violence and senseless vandalism as they did before (and as they still are, I believe, in other parts of the country), but the presence in the park today and around Taksim Square was very much a pleasant one, and it was good to see that, for the moment, all of this appears to have made some difference and that the purpose seems to have returned to its original peaceful methods. I loved being able to actually witness what I’d heard so much about, and I was able to enjoy the experience without feeling like I was in danger.
The gallery below has over 100 photos, so it might take some time to load and look through. It’s a good one, though, and I think it gives a pretty good idea of how things began, escalated, exploded, and are now (hopefully) healing. Check it out!
Occupy Gezi Park.
Lots of tents…
…and lots of sleepy people.
Some new trees.
During the worst of the protests, demonstrators barricaded the major roads leading to Taksim to prevent law enforcement from accessing the area. A lot of the barricades are still in place.
City buses gutted and tagged.
It looks like some people were attempting to clean the interiors so that people could sit inside. Despite the mess that was made, the public has been pretty exceptional in doing all they can to clean up after themselves.
Reading material for the long commute!
Lots of buildings in the area also bore the brunt of the damage.
In addition to setting up the barricades, protestors also took down the walls separating the square from the major construction taking place around it. I must say, I like what they’ve done with the place.
A police vehicle.
Ataturk Cultural Center plastered with slogans from the movement.
On Friday morning when the police attacked, Starbucks was apparently the only storefront in the square that closed their doors to the wounded. Several locations in the city were vandalized in response to this, but since then, the company has been seen handing out food and beverage and first aid supplies. I’m willing to chalk up the initial reaction to the employees fear and confusion. We can’t blame them for being human.
Some very small marches would come through the area every once in a while.
A barricade on Siraselviler, a major street leading to/from Taksim.
Republic Monument, dressed for the occasion.
“A marauder’s heart is his only weapon.”
Some tin housing. The man on the right was in the middle of a refreshing bath.
Entering the open construction area, filled mostly with dirt and totaled service vehicles.
An open view from the construction area.
I believe this is what might be referred to as “beating someone at their own game”. Well done, Istanbul!
Flat tires abound.
Lemons are a useful antidote for tear gas. I’m surprised there are any still in the city, let alone where all the action was happening!
Best napping spot in the city!
“Our Urgent Demands”
Live music was everywhere.
The watermelon here seriously tastes like food of the gods.
I couldn’t translate this watermelon, but it tasted good!
This wall was stacked with various foods and medicines for the taking.
I will always, always love Istanbul for the way they take care of their animals. The large stray population was greatly affected by lethal amounts of tear gas, and many veterinarians opened their clinics to them. There were lots of little food stations like these to make sure the dogs and cats didn’t go hungry!
A banner commemorating a young protestor killed near the Syrian border.
“The demands of our resistance are as follows…”
Some line-dancing broke out with the traditional music.
More tin housing.
A barricaded entrance to the Taksim metro. There are many other entrances in the area that are open.
Taksim is usually the easiest place to withdraw cash. Not so much anymore.