LOS ANGELES - The streets around Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles were packed Saturday, as thousands of people were bused in from all over Southern California to join one of three large rallies held around the world to support the call for freedom in Iran. In Washington D.C., the National Mall was covered with people that came in from as far as Toronto. The crowd in Berlin was estimated at 40,000 people.
Los Angeles organizers expected as many as 30,000, as Southern California is home to the largest population of Iranians outside of Iran. There have been numerous protests since the brutal crackdown of Iranian authorities on protesters in that country, bringing attention to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, while in custody of Iran’s morality police, who had arrested her for improper veil wearing. Saturday's protest is the second such in downtown LA recently. Demonstrators have also gathered in West Hollywood demanding justice.
Anti-government protests first focused on the country’s mandatory hijab covering laws after Amini’s death on Sept. 16th, but have expanded to a challenge against the Islamic Republic and an all-out call for a change of a regime that has been in charge since 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini took over, establishing a militant, fundamentalist state.
Older women in the crowd had horror stories — many of them were protesting in the ‘80s as well. They are now joined by a younger generation armed with social media, which can attract throngs to events like Saturday’s. Images of the brutal crackdown in Iran are educating a whole new group of people about the situation, and protests bring hope to so many here who've been waiting for something to trigger real change.
"If our leaders see these many people who want change, they will do more than what they have been doing," one protester told FOX 11. "These young people won’t get tired, they will fight to the end."