TODAY   |  June 16, 2013

Police use tear gas against protesters in Turkey

Turkish police moved in Saturday night in a quick military-style operation, using water cannons and bulldozers to clear Taksim Square, where protesters have been gathering. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we do want to begin with violent clashes happening in turkey. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel caught in the middle of it all and he joins us from istanbul with the very latest. richard, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, erica. there has been more clashes here in istanbul this morning. the situation escalated yesterday when riot police moved in a taksim square to drive out protesters. we were here for that crackdown and saw what happened during it and what followed. turkish police moved in saturday night, a quick military style operation using water cannons and bulldozers to clear taksim square and the park inside of it pr protesters don't want destroyed. cleared the square with ease. then things started to go wrong because now police had to keep people from turnireturning. and it was in the small streets around the square where police got much more aggressive. nbc news witnessed one incident at a nearby hotel. police used clubs to drive people off the streets and inside the hotel. police are moving out even beyond taksim square trying to push the protesters out of the side streets and keep them from gathering in any one place and returning to 0 taksim square . the hotel was a protester base. they set up a makeshift clinic in the lobby. then police fired tear gas inside the hotel. in an enclosed space, the gas is far more powerful. it can even be lethal. and like in most hotels, the windows here don't open. most of the demonstrators don't have proper gas masks . they don't just choke, it burns. some faint, some go limp . this is not the image turkey wants to show. instead, prime minister erdogan has been holding mass rallies for him and his actions. he calls the protesters hooligans and vows to restore order. but even some of the prime minister's supporters are critical saying he may be overstepping, and by using so metropolitan force is turning a small protest into a protest movement. prime minister erdogan is expected to hold his biggest rally yet today. it could draw hundreds of thousands of people here in istanbul . luckily the rally won't be held in taksim square but out at the airport so there are unlikely to be clashes between erdogan supporters and protesters, but there are deep divisions in this country that are becoming even more distinct. eri erica?

>> that's for sure. richard engel ,