This collection of photos by activist Jenna Pope recounts the events surrounding the destruction and occupation of Gezi Park in early June this year.
When major protests against the destruction of Gezi Park engulfed Istanbul this past summer, American photographer and activist Jenna Pope was quick to decide that she needed to be part of this. Within days she arrived in Turkey, camera in-hand to photograph and report on the biggest popular uprising in the history of the country.
The Gezi Park protests began with two dozen activists occupying the iconic park in the center of Istanbul to protect it against destruction. They tried to stop the government’s plans to turn this last natural refuge in the concrete jungle into another unnecessary and unwanted shopping mall. After a violent police crackdown on the peaceful protesters, the marginal environmental resistance quickly turned into a countrywide uprising against Prime Minister Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule. Street battles were fought between the extremely violent police forces — which used water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue the ‘Çapulers’ — and the defiant resistance movement.
For a period of two weeks — without a doubt the two most significant weeks of the entire Gezi protests that saw the rise and fall of the Taksim commune — Jenna was on the streets of Istanbul documenting the police violence and the determination of the protesters, supporting the movement, and spreading the word about what was going on in Turkey to a global audience. Jenna’s pictures have played an important role in creating awareness about the situation in Turkey at the time, not only showing the dark side of the protests in the form of the disproportional police crackdown, but also, and more importantly, the solidarity amongst and the defiance of the protesters.
ROAR is delighted to feature a selection of Jenna’s photos from this turbulent and important chapter in the on-going global revolution. If you like her work and would like to support her, please don’t hesitate to have a look at her crowdfunding campaign and help her to independently publish her photo book ‘An Activist Armed With A Camera’.
Thousands of protesters fill Taksim Square.
Protesters holding up a flare while standing on a destroyed car in Taksim Square.
Tents set up in Gezi Park, where thousands of people camped out every night.
Flowers planted into a peace sign at the location in Gezi Park where the first few trees were cut down before the occupation and resistance in the park forced construction to end.
Thousands of people fill Taksim Square at night.
City bus-barricade on one of the roads leading to Taksim Square.
Protesters in the Gazi neighborhood of Istanbul hold up peace signs as the headlights from two water cannon trucks shine on them.
A protester walks down the middle of the street as two water cannon trucks approach from behind.
Police officers stand behind two water cannon trucks in Taksim Square.
Protesters stand on the edge of Gezi Park, watching as hundreds of police officers entered Taksim Square with multiple water cannon trucks and other armored vehicles.
Protesters stand in front of a water cannon truck before cops began attacking protestors with tear gas, water cannons, and plastic bullets.
A protester throws a tear gas canister back towards police.
Protesters standing behind make-shift barricades as they are sprayed with a water cannon.
Tear gas floating down the street towards protesters as they are pushed further from the square.
Protesters sitting in front of the barricades which have been erected on the edge of Gezi Park.
Police advancing towards protesters while shooting tear gas into the crowd on the street.
Workers at a restaurant near Taksim Square wearing gas masks.
Thousands of protesters standing behind make-shift barricades on Istiklal Street as tear gas lingers overhead.
Thousands of protesters gathered on Istiklal Street.
As the sun sets over Taksim Square, thousands of people are still gathering to protect the Gezi Park.
Protesters being sprayed with a water cannon.
Pianist Davide Martello tried to ease the tension by playing for hours in the middle of Taksim Square.
A policeman fires tear gas in an attempt to disperse the protesters.
Thousands of Çapulers remain defiant and jubilantly occupy the streets of Istanbul.
Tear gas filling Taksim Square.