Gezi: the name of a little-known and even less appreciated park in the heart of Istanbuls booming Beyoğlu district. Generally known as a place to be avoided at night, when the small area adjacent to Taksim Square is taken over by drunks and drug addicts, who find shelter and security in the darkness provided by the shadows of the large trees. But this was before, before anyone could have even guessed that this obscure oasis, this last green refuge amid the encroaching concrete jungle, this biotope of fresh air courageously pumping out oxygen in a place where smog, toxic fumes and pollution are the norm, would be the rallying cry for thousands upon thousands of angry citizens from all walks of life. - From ROAR Magazine
The Gezi Park Protests started on May 28th with a sit-in by a small group of environmentalists contesting the demolition of a park in the center of Istanbul's Taksim Square. In three raids over the course of several days, the police attempted to remove the group occupying the park only to see the protests grow and spiral into wider clashes. Outrage at images of police brutality against the protesters and resentment against the rule of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) triggered huge demonstrations across the country. Heavy clashes between protesters and police reached their peak between the morning of May 31st and the afternoon of June 1st, when riot police withdrew. As the police retreated, thousands filled Taksim Square and Gezi Park. For 14 days, demonstrators camped in and around the park and the square, blocking the immediate re-entry of police forces by with extensive makeshift barricades and a system of lookouts.