Turkish police used tear gas and water cannons to clear protestors from Istanbul's Taksim Square and Gezi Park on Saturday. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had issued a warning to the group earlier in the day to leave or face expulsion, saying "If it is not emptied, from now on, this country's security forces will know how to empty that place." The protesters ignored the threat, countering that none of their demands had been fulfilled. The PM has pledged to hold a vote on whether to redevelop the park where the protests started, instead of making an executive decision, but apparently it was too little, too late. Since the unrest started, there have been four deaths and around 5,000 people injured.
"Thousands of peaceful protesters, choking on the fumes and stumbling among the tents, put up little physical resistance, even as plain-clothes police manhandled many to drive them from the park. Just moments before, the park had been full of protesters young and old, as well as families with children.
Many ran into nearby hotels for shelter. A stand-off developed at one hotel on the edge of the park, where police opened up with water cannon against protesters and journalists outside before throwing tear gas at the entrance, filing the lobby with white smoke. At other hotels, plain-clothes policemen turned up outside, demanding the protesters come out.
Some protesters ran off into nearby streets, setting up makeshift barricades and running from water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets into the early hours of Sunday. Plumes of white tear gas rose from the streets.
As news of the raid broke, thousands of people from other parts of Istanbul gathered and were attempting to reach Taksim. Television showed footage of riot police firing tear gas on a highway and bridge across the Bosphorus to prevent protesters from heading to the area."
Tayfun Kahraman, a member of Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest movements, told The Associated Press by phone, "Let them keep the park, we don't care anymore. Let it all be theirs. This crackdown has to stop. The people are in a terrible state."
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