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!" 


Police even searched for protesters on roofs:

Elsewhere, the city's lockdown left some streets eerily empty:

Police arrested some protesters:

The symbolism of Taksim Square stems in part from deadly clashes that occurred there in 1977: