Seattleite Christan Leonard is in Istanbul documenting a protest movement that is turning out to be about a lot more than saving a park.
The protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park have settled in for the long-haul.
What started as a small campsite of concerned environmentalists, seeking to protect one of Istanbul’s last green areas, has mushroomed into a full-blown settlement with as many ideologies as there are residents.
The Kurds, communists, and LGBT activists and others who inhabit the park do share one common attribute; a belief in volunteerism which has allowed the mini-opolis to function for more than two weeks without governance or capital.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan refuses to back down on plans to build a mall in Gezi Park. And after violent clashes between police and protestors Tuesday night, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next.
A policeman stands in a cloud of tear gas during efforts to drive protesers from Taksim Square Tuesday.
A volunteer distributes snacks at one of the park’s many food dispensaries.
A protester receives first aid after coming into contact with tear gas.
After days of camping out in the park protesters use flares to put on a nighttime firework show to boost morale.
A protester throws a rock at police in Istanbul’s Taksim Square Tuesday.
A policeman negotiates with a protester in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Tuesday.
Protesters attempt to build a barrier to prevent police from entering Gezi Park.
A protester browses through one of the camp’s free libraries where the scope of literature ranges from Marxist theory to trashy American romance novels.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged Wednesday to clear the park within 24 hours, but there’s been no major police action since Tuesday night.
Without enough tents for everyone, determined occupants of the camp catch some sleep wherever they can.
Read more about the ongoing protests in Turkey:
What the heck is happening in Turkey?
Starbucks lends a hand (and a toilet) to Turkish protesters