Reuters Photo: Riot police prepare to enter Istanbul's Taksim Square
Police began by taking down banners hung by protesters on a large building at the edge of the square. The banners were replaced with a Turkish flag and a banner of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Cops briefly fired tear gas canisters as well as rubber bullets. Protesters fled into Gezi Park, where many had been camping. Some of the activists fired fireworks, fire bombs, and stones at police, reports AP.
Hurriyet Daily News reports that the governor’s office sent a written statement that the operation meant to remove the banners and flag, but there was no intervention planned for the Gezi Park and the tents inside.