People waved flags, chanted and sang. The police, who were lined up on the steps to Gezi Parkı, put on their masks and helmets. There were streams of white smoke snaking through the blue sky, and landing with a cloud. Protesters began to run while someone shouted above the chaos to slow down and to take care not to knock others down. At some point, we were hit with a gas that burned more than the others— it tasted funny, a bit like oranges. Seven hours and a good shower later, my skin still burns. People collapsed on the ground unable to see, and coughing hard, yet in seconds, their eyes and face were soothed by an antacid mixture being sprayed by a compassionate stranger.
Behind the monument is Gezi Parkı, the place where this all began. People didn't want to see this patch of green razed to the ground, so they peacefully voiced their opposition to the plan for a new shopping mall, and police responded with brutality. This is no longer a fight against bulldozers razing a park to the ground. This is a fight against the government.