Mayday: Tear Gas in Istanbul

Mayday: Tear Gas in Istanbul

On Mayday in Istanbul, we had a front row seat to watch world events unfold.

The area in front of our picture window became in important piece of ground in the battle between protesters and police. Protesters were determined to reach Taksim Square to commemorate last year’s events, but  tens of thousands of police blocked their way to the Square, which was forbidden to them. That made the street right in front of our apartment  into an important bit of territory.

Here are photos from my window (many through the curtains, because the events were just feet away from me!)

Armored police vehicle with water cannons on the front.
Protester throwing rocks. There were LOTS of women involved.
Slingshots were common weapons. The painting mask will protect him from inhaling tear gas.
Building a barricade. The ‘line of scrimmage’ moved up and down our street as protesters and police fought over territory.
Goggles and gas mask will hopefully protect this woman from tear gas. Judging from the large camera, these may have been journalists.
Only a few protesters hid their identity with hoods.
Protester on the right is wearing a homemade gas mask. This year’s protesters were prepared. Many people carried a solution of Maalox and water in spray bottles, which can relieve some of the burning from tear gas.
Tear gas cannisters were exploding right outside my bedrooom window.
The tear gas effectively pushed the protesters back, and the police now have control of my street. For the moment…
Police gathered at the top of my block, holding the ground.
See the downed light posts? Protesters loosened them with a wrench and tipped them t to stop the water cannon and tear gas firing vehicles from making their way up the street.
Police had air guns and fired rubber pellets.
Protesters have taken more territory and are bringing everything they can find to build a barricade further up the street.
Buliding barricades.
Injured protester.
This man appears to have a malatov cocktail in his hand.
Bandanas offer minimal tear gas protection, unfortunately.
AS the battle heated up, the street filled with rubble. Time and again the protesters would be pushed back by tear gas, then rally and charge again, with rocks and marbles and slingshots.
Right outside my window, a protester breaks the cover over a lightpost base with a rock, to expose hte bolts. Moments later, police fired tear gas and stopped him. They never got this one down.
Disoriented protesters suffering from tear gas attacks.
A neighbor tossed down packets of tissues from her window to help the protesters.
People were coughing and gagging horribly, but they just kept rallying and charging, again and again.
Eyes swollen from tear gas, this woman was looking right at me but I don’t think she could see at all.
A woman helps her suffering friend take a sip of water.
Our street was littered with spent tear gas cannisters.
Somehow this police vehicle got past the downed streetlamp posts and fired cannister after cannister of tear gas down our street.

When it was all over, we tried to go outside, but we couldn’t get past the foyer of our apartment building. Craig got further than I did and came back with eyes red and streaming. I barely moved past our door and felt my lungs searing.

When we finally did go out, hours later, we saw broken windows and charred building fronts on our street. There was a lot of horrific coughing all down the street. Although we couldn’t smell the gas any more, by the time we walked to the store and back, we were coughing, too.

That was day before yesterday. Although rubble is still being cleaned up, I want you all to know that everything seems fine now. We walked all over the city yesterday, and everything felt fine and safe and back to normal.

Published by Lauren

I'm a nomadic freelance writer, out enjoying the world!

1 Comment

  • Beth

    May 3, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Excellent pictures. You should see if you can submit them to some new site.