Police Retreat From Gezi Park, Thousands Flock to Taksim
Riot police pulled out from Taksim’s Gezi Park on Saturday afternoon, taking away barricades and allowing in tens of thousands of protesters in an apparent move to end tensions from two days of anti-government protests.
Some protesters hurled objects at withdrawing officers and police vehicles, prompting officers to fire several rounds of tear gas to push back the crowds and resumed pulling out of Taksim Square.
The state-run Anatolia Agency said the protesters threw fireworks at police.
Earlier, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on demonstrators to end their protest, but remained defiant. He said the government would press ahead with the redevelopment plans at Taksim that sparked the demonstrations.
Tensions were still high until afternoon as police deployed tear gas and pressurized water against groups of protesters trying to reach the central İstanbul square early on Saturday.
The protest grew out of anger at police’s heavy-handed tactics to break up a peaceful sit-in to protect a park in Taksim Square on Friday. It turned into a wider protest and spread to other Turkish cities. Dozens have been injured in the scuffles.