Users turn to Twitter as Turkey protests grow violent

It probably should have never come to this, but once again Twitter has taken center stage as protests in Turkey turned violent.

What once started as a peaceful protest over urbanization has ballooned into a full-on national crisis that has now resulted in the death of at least one person. Beginning on Friday, May 31, however, Turkish police attempted to put a halt to the campaign by shooting tear gas and water cannons into the crowds.

Instead of ending the confrontation, however, the police action simply escalated it. Outraged protestors took to the streets in Istanbul as well as the country's capital, Ankara, and today, June 3, marks the fourth straight day in which the Turkish government has clashed with its citizens.

Unfortunately, the clash has not taken the life of Mehmet Ayvalitas, a 20-year-old activist who "was killed during the protests after a cab driver tried to drive through a group of protestors, despite warnings to turn around," according to The Atlantic Wire.

Of course, the conflict now is less about plans to turn a park into a mall and more about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's leadership, which many Turks feel is overly oppressive conservative. For his part, Erdogan downplayed the effects of the riots at a press conference on Monday.

"This is a protest organized by extremist elements," Erdogan said, according to The Atlantic Wire. "Be calm, relax. All this will be overcome."

Still, as with protests in Iran, Egypt, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East, social media is playing an increasingly critical role in helping protesters deliver information to the world and to each other. Twitter, in particular, has been flooded with images from the protests and with messages from not only Turks, but also people around the world voicing their concern and/or support.

Here's a sampling of the tweets. More can be seen by using the hashtag #occupygezi.

The user @danielmack tweeted a picture of some graffiti at Taksim-Square that said, "Revolution will not be televised. It will be Tweeted." You can find the image here.

Meanwhile, @AnonOpsLegion posted an image of an incident in which "Police fire tear gas cannister through taxi window in middle of Ankara's Kizilay sq, driver escapes." A link to that image is here.

"Clear message from the protestors. AKP GOVERNMENT MUST RESIGN!" tweeted @UnToldCarlisle.

"Woman crying and shouting to Turkish police after teargas bombing "please... enough!" posted @enisdurak35. You can find the image here.

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