In the photo above, a Turkish anti-government protester is trying to remain standing as he is hit by the incredible force of a water cannon. The picture was taken as police worked to clear the Taksim Square in Istanbul on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
While tear gas may be the defining tool of the protests (thanks in no small part to the iconic image of the “Lady in Red”), water cannons have been another constant in the police clampdown on the protests. Today they were used to force protesters from Taksim Square, where they had been camped for more than a week, into a nearby park.
Water cannons are rarely used in countries like the U.S. and the U.K. anymore. During 2011’s London riots there was widespread debate over whether water cannons should be used to control crowds, but ultimately they were not used.
Here’s how an anonymous Quora user who said he was a police officer described being shot by a water cannon:
Being shot by a water cannon is very wet, and rather unpleasant. The force of the water is strong enough to push you around or knock you to the ground if you haven’t got a good, solid stance. And, obviously, you get wet.
Here’s how a police officer described being hit to the Telegraph in 2010:
“It is like being in a power-shower times 10 and it takes the air away, which makes it difficult to breathe, so you have to move.
In Istanbul, protesters have been forced to get creative to fight the water cannons — grabbing whatever they can to deflect the powerful water spray.
Others have taken bigger risks, such as this man who lay directly in front of the wheel of a cannon so it could not move forward. At least three ambulances drove into the Square to gather the injured today, the New York Times reports.
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