We left home on Sunday afternoon to deliver supplies to a friend, and were chased out of one of Istiklal Caddesi's side streets by some police and a cloud of advancing gas. Nevertheless, we pushed on, finding another route. We moved through a crowded passage toward the bottom half of Istiklal to find ourselves on the street between a line of riot police and an advancing group of about a thousand protesters (this is a very rough estimation). We quickly retreated to the entrance of the passage, where a man was tugging on its metal gate and calling people to run inside, so he could safely close us in. A TOMA sped from around the corner near Galatasaray High School in the direction of the protesters, then stopped short in front of them. A small battalion of police followed, then the spraying began. I struggled to squeeze between the group of people who had gathered behind the gate, so I could take a picture. Suddenly, there was a series of loud bangs— the sound bombs, I believe— then, gas.
We exited through the opposite end of the passage, and made our way back to Tarlabaşı Boulevard, where I saw two police pulling a woman about my age towards the police station. They tore a surgical mask off her face, and the construction helmet she was wearing, off her head. A cloud of gas hung above the top of the Boulevard, near Taksim. Suddenly, a TOMA, in an attempt to manoeuvre a U-turn (I think), pointed its water cannon in our direction, which sent us and a group of bystanders into the crumbling back streets of Tarlabaşı. A resident prostitute yelled after us, warning us about a dead end, and pointed out a better path. Though I don't think the water cannon was going to shoot at us for just being present on the side of the street, I have no more faith in the decision making abilities of the police.
We weaved through the labyrinthine streets and the Sunday market, eventually making it home safely. Soon afterwards, the streets became a war zone once again, with bands of police and government supporters armed with sticks, and allegedly knives too, vowing to attack protesters. I don't know what to think anymore. It was scary with just the police lurking around, but now with these radical AKP supporters shouting things about breaking the hands of protesters, I am having trouble sleeping at night. This violence... Nothing good can come of it.
Gezi Park is now completely occupied by police. I don't know how many people have been arrested, including doctors, lawyers, journalists. There are alarming figures on the internet about the injuries sustained by protesters— eyes lost, burns, lacerations, brain damage— but the reports are conflicting. I believe the actual number is outrageously and unacceptably high.
The air so often stings.