After about 2,000 people gathered in Besiktas Square in central Istanbul on Friday for May Day rallies and a march, police moved quickly to dispel them, using tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters and prevent them from disobeying a citywide lockdown. Protesters threw rocks and firecrackers in return, Al Jazeera reported.
Demonstrators gathered in Besiktas Square to prepare to march to the symbolic Taksim Square, where 10,000 police were stationed following a government crackdown that blocked off roads and access to the square. The city shut down a main metro and a tram line leading to Taksim Square, and set up iron barriers around the square. Sixty-two water cannon trucks were ready to be used, too, Germany news site DW reported.
Taksim has been the site of anti-government protests in recent years, and in 1977, a dozen people died there in clashes. The Turkish government passed a measure earlier this year that gave police freer rein to crack down on protesters, the Associated Press reported.
Nevertheless, demonstrators gathered in Besiktas on Friday, facing off against police and shouting "shoulder to shoulder against fascism!"
RT @AFP: Turkish police use water cannons against protestors in a May Day rally near Taksim Square, 2015. AFP Photo /@Kilicbil http://t.co/…
â€” (@AliRemzii) May 01 2015
RT @mashable: An elderly man lies on the ground near riot police during violent May Day protests in Istanbul http://on.mash.to/1GLtVkl http://…
— (@OzlemDalkiran) May 01 2015
Police even searched for protesters on roofs:
RT @csagir2015: Police search for protesters even on roofstops in Beşiktaş on May Day... #1MAYIS http://twitter.com/csagir2015/status/594111517550891008/photo/1
— (@W_K_Heisenberg) May 01 2015
Elsewhere, the city's lockdown left some streets eerily empty:
— Mark Lowen (@marklowen) May 1, 2015
Police arrested some protesters:
— Today's Zaman (@todayszamancom) May 1, 2015
The symbolism of Taksim Square stems in part from deadly clashes that occurred there in 1977: