Armed with tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets, Turkish police moved in on Taksim Square early Tuesday morning, preparing to clear the area of the anti-government protestors who have occupying it for over a week.
"This is an illegal uprising but some are trying to mask it," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, the focus of many of the protestors' ire, as he attempted to draw a distinction between what he claimed were peaceful protests in Gezi Park—where he said he would not interfere for now—and allegedly more violent demonstrations in Taksim, which is directly adjacent.
Gezi has been occupied for more than two weeks, as Istanbullus protest a planned development that would replace the park with a mall inside a rebuilt Ottoman-era barracks. The protests have now expanded to scores of Turkish cities, though Erdogan still commands high approval ratings.
[images, of today's skirmishes with police, by Thanassis Stavrakis and Kostas Tsironis/AP]