What Started As A Protest Over Trees In Turkey Has Escalated Into Violence

The government's response to a sit-in at a park on Friday has sparked widespread anti-government protests and violence that continued into the weekend.

A protest in Istanbul, Turkey, that began as opposition to the removal of trees at a popular park has escalated into mass demonstrations against the Turkish government.

Demonstrators refused to leave Taksim Square Tuesday in an effort to stop the uprooting of trees to make way for a shopping mall and army barracks.

The government responded to the demonstrators with riot police and tear gas.

The protest then grew out of anger at the government's severe reaction to what began as a peaceful demonstration.

Hundreds were injured Friday, and authorities attempted to push demonstrators away from Taksim Square.

Police used tear gas and water cannons to attempt to disperse crowds.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said police may have used tear gas excessively against protestors, but also said protestors did not represent a majority of the population.

The violence in Istanbul has prompted protestors to rally in other cities across the country.

Reuters has called the protests Turkey's "fiercest anti-government protests for years."