1 May 2014 started early in Istanbul. A warm day as it was did not encourage journeys. Closed streets and police controlling the passers by, ubiquitous young men gangs hanging around, carrying helmets, gas masks, flags and bricks on the main Çevreyolu – these were only few disruptions Istanbullites had to bear and witness on that day.
The government’s announcement about closing the Taksim Square on the 1 May and stationing the police forces in the key Istanbul areas not only did not discourage, but on the contrary, incited the unionists and the ruling party opponents into action. Already around 9am the police used first water cannons and tear gas against the protesters gathering in Beşiktaş.
As the developments of the day progressed, the media were reporting new evacuations from the Beşiktaş area and from hour to hour increased the number of hospitalised and convicted citizens.
Perhaps it is not difficult to understand the reasoning behind the decision to close the Taksim Square for the May Day celebrations. However, it only directs the angry and the disappointed into other areas, closer to normal citizens and provokes street battles with the police. The result is lengthy media reports on the injured, photos of children suffering from the use of the tear gas and mass arrests.