Riot police on Saturday resorted to armored vehicles and water cannons to clear Istanbul's Taksim Square of the tens of thousands of people who had gathered there to stage a peaceful demonstration.

The tension mounted until 6:00 p.m. as the protesters, who assembled Saturday afternoon in the square with red carnations commemorating the violent removal of demonstrators from nearby Gezi Park a week ago, moved in small groups among the police brigades.

After an hour of peaceful protests, police with their megaphones ordered the demonstrators to leave, which no one did. The cops then blasted jets of water from the armored vehicles that had been surrounding the square for days.

Unlike previous weeks, riot police did not launch tear gas, nor were there scenes of panic or attacks against the officers.

Police guarded the area, though without completely cordoning it off, and many citizens maintained an attitude of protest in the nearby streets, but without any clashes.

The protests began on May 28 as a rejection of government plans to raze Gezi Park to build a replica of an Ottoman-era military barracks and a shopping mall, but they expanded into a broader movement against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, which the demonstrators say has become increasingly authoritarian. EFE