One week ago, Istanbul was a very different city. Streets were filled with tourists, traffic was congested as ever, and museums and shops were gearing up for another busy summer. Now, Europe's largest city (with over 15 million people) has in many ways become a war zone, where tens of thousands of protesters and police continue clashing in clouds of tear gas and dust in some of Istanbul's most densely populated districts. In this fight for power, protesters have pushed police forces far beyond Gezi Park and Taksim Square, constantly building a number of makeshift barricades along the way on deserted city streets and avenues leading to the shores of the Bosphorus Straight. Construction equipment and police vehicles just outside Gezi Park have been beaten and burned. Buses covered in graffiti and broken glass sit on flat tires in front of luxury hotels. Countless bus stops, road signs, telephone booths, ATMs, and light posts have been heavily damaged, if not completely destroyed. Even thousands of bricks from the city walkways have been removed and used by demonstrators against police. It's nearly impossible for vehicles, public buses, and large delivery trucks to pass through already cramped streets lined with toppled trash bins, burning piles of ruble, and line after line of barricades. With police relentlessly firing water canons and canisters of tear gas into streets filled with demonstrators, bystanders, and tourists, and with Prime Minister Erdogan refusing to step down from power, it is unlikely that these protests will die down anytime soon, leaving this European megacity in an increasingly chaotic mess.
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