Gezi Park Protests brought many formerly passive citizens out on the streets, and while not all of them were young, there was certainly a feeling of the “apolitical youth” being awakened. This was further strengthened by various graffiti: “Don’t worry mom, I’m not in the front, we’re all walking together” “No mom, we’re in the back” and “Don’t be afraid mom, my friend is with me.” Research done inside the park showed that the average age there was 28, by no means young enough to confirm the perception of teenagers reporting to their “mom”s. But the discourse of youth was firmly established and reinforced by the authorities, especially by the city’s governor Hüseyin Mutlu, repeatedly referring to the “young people” and “our children” in the park. This patronizing tone was also adopted by PM Erdoğan in his frequent and divisive speeches, causing many to liken him to a harsh father scolding his children; and raising discussions about the power relations between the rulers and the public in Turkey. All of this culminated in an announcement made by Governor Mutlu shortly before the final crackdown on the park. He called out to “families,” asking them to come and pick up their children, stating that their safety could no longer be guaranteed. Beside the fact that the demonstrators’ safety had never really been a concern for the police, this belittling statement also contained a covert yet very clear threat to all protestors. However, like most official declarations, this also backfired. Soon after, a group of mothers formed a human chain at the park, walking all across Gezi and bringing their demonstration to Taksim Square, where they chanted “Moms are here!” in response – as seen in the video.
Despite my title however, one should remember that not all kids are alright. In addition to the six young men killed during the protests, the youngest victim of police brutality, Berkin Elvan (then 14) remains in a coma since being shot in the head with a gas canister on June 15, the day after the park was cleared. It was Fathers’ Day, and Berkin was on his way to buy bread, instructed by his mom.