Turkey Erupts With Protest After Police Brutality Verdict

Jan 21, 2015 at 5:11 PM ET

Thousands of people across Turkey took to the streets Wednesday to protest what they saw as the light sentencing of two police officers and three civilians in the beating death of a teenager during a demonstration in 2013. In Kayseri, where the trial took place, law enforcement dispersed protesters with tear gas. Demonstrations have since spread to larger cities including Ankara and Istanbul.

The trial stems from the killing of Ali Ismail Korkmaz, 19, in the northwestern city of Eskisehir during the height of the nationwide series of protests against the government’s violent taking of Istanbul’s Gezi Park—a popular site of pro-democracy and free speech demonstrations similar to New York City’s Zuccotti Park or Egypt’s Tahrir Square.

On June 2, 2013, plainclothes officers armed with sticks attacked Korkmaz outside a bakery. Civilian bystanders joined to “help police prevent a coup.” Korkmaz fell into a coma and died 38 days later. Security cameras captured the entire incident. Though initial reports suggested that police had destroyed the footage, it resurfaced and became a key piece of evidence in the resulting trail.

After the convictions, the court sentenced the two police officers to 10 years in prison and the three civilians to six—a punishment insufficient for Korkmaz’s family, their supporters and the millions who followed the trial across the country.

“Damn this people and damn this justice!” shouted the victim’s mother, Emel Korkmaz, as she left the courtroom. “The whole world saw how you murdered him!”

The hashtag #AliIsmailKorkmazicinadalet (Justice for Ali ismail Korkmaz) was trending on Twitter throughout the day.