This morning I was up early to run. Not as early as normal as I had gone to bed later than I’d planned. But I was out the door by a quarter after six.
I was hoping to get my run in before things got nasty. We live in Şişli which had been expected to be a site of clashes between protesters and police on this May Day. Many labor organizations wanted to demonstrate in Taksim to mark May Day. President Erdogan told them all no. Ferry ports have been closed. The subway line that runs through Taksim has been closed down. The funicular that runs from the square down to the ferry port is also down.
My route took me up near the Sişli Mosque, then back down Halaskargazi, then Rumeli into Nişantaşı, passing the Teşvikiye Mosque, and on down toward Dolmabahçe. There were police and barricades everywhere along that part of the route. I stopped seeing police after Teşvikiye. I didn’t see any police on Dolmabahçe. Only a handful when I headed up toward Machka Park, and none when I went toward Taksim on Asker Oçağı.
That’s when I ran into a little trouble. At the top of the steep hill. For the people staying at the Hotel InterContinental and the Divan Hotel, it’s a good thing they’re very nice hotels. Because no one is going to be entering or leaving those hotels today. The police barricades completely surround them. I was able, along with some pedestrians, to slip in-between one small opening in the barricades and get on the sidewalk so I could go up Cumhurriyet back towards our apartment.
But then there were barricades and police swarming all over. I had to run through and around groups of police and, more ominously, men dressed in plain clothes carrying billy clubs. The street was closed off and that proved the easiest to run on. So I ran up the street, garnering several curious looks. The police probably thought I was a dumb tourist. No, I’m just a dumb yabancı running fool.
When I finished my route a block south of the intersection of Ergenekon and Halaskargazi, I walked, weaving my way through more police. One of the börek places was doing a booming business. Every available chair was occupied by a börek-eating and tea-drinking police officer in riot gear.
I reached the Ramada there at the intersection and went to turn on Ergenekon but was greeted by barricades. The street was completely blocked off. I walked further up to the next side street. Again, the street was barricaded off completely. No access. Luckily, on the next side street there was a gap in the barricades and I slipped through down the narrow street and turned onto Ergenekon. All of the shops were closed. There were police blocking off the road, forcing what little car and pedestrian traffic there was to go back or down Kurtuluş. Good thing I was walking in the direction the police wanted people to walk, away from Halaskargazi Avenue.
I bought some börek from my usual place and returned to our apartment.
Just after I had finished my breakfast the protestors chanted and marched in the direction of Halaskargazi.
Some took the time to drag the planters out onto the street. Later, our doorman, with help of some others pulled them off the street and back onto the sidewalk.
This group were picking up bricks and breaking them into pieces to be used in sling shots.
One guy was slamming the side of the building. Two people from Onur came out and told him to stop. He did. After the protesters left they sent a guy out with a cart to collect all the loose bricks.
It wasn’t long before the protesters were pushed back down our street.
Here’s the TOMA that was shooting the water.
Fireworks could be heard going off for several minutes after the TOMA followed the protesters. It’s a common tactic used by the protestors to keep the police back.
About an hour later, things had settled down enough that I was able to walk up the street to our favorite bakery and buy a few sweets for this afternoon.
Despite it being a beautiful sunny day, we’re stuck inside the apartment. We had originally planned to do a cruise up the Bosphorus. We had thought it would be a good thing to do on a sunny day and also to be away from all the madness in the streets. But, alas, with the subway down, the ferries not running, the streets closed, and several bus lines not running or rerouted, we’ve nowhere to go.
How was your morning?