Clouds loomed as people began to gather in the grass at Pershing Square. However, as the crowd grew to 20,000, the gloomy overcast dispersed and the sun shined brightly as the march to City Hall began.
They carried Iran flags, signs and photos of Mahsa Amini. They shouted “Zan! Zendegi! Azadi!” and “Freedom for Iran!” They sang “Baraye” by Shervin Hajipour.
Thousands of people filled the streets of Downtown LA on Oct. 1, in support of Mahsa Amini, women’s rights everywhere and to protest the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Amini was arrested by the Guidance Patrol, Iran’s religious morality police, for not wearing her hijab properly and fell into a coma while in their custody. She later died on Sept. 16.
Since then, there have been many protests and rallies all over the world.
Artists Samantha Rose Moshiri and Yadviga Krasovskaya ended the Oct. 1 rally with a performance that featured Krasovskaya cutting her hair and Moshiri pouring fake blood over herself as the crowd cheered in support.
“I was crying,” Moshiri said. “I was electrocuted by the pain, the anguish, the despair and the cry for help and the prayer for hope in all these eyes looking at me but not seeing me; seeing the injustice that was happening to women.”
Krasovskaya said that while cutting her hair didn’t change her own personal life, she felt deeply connected to all the women who have done so in Iran to protest their government.
“It was hope and freedom,” Krasoksaya said. “I’m able to cut my hair and I have a right to that.”
Krasovskaya said that sometimes it felt like there are not enough human right activists but seeing and hearing the roar of 20,000 people changed those feelings.
“There’s so many of us and we’re all on the same page, we’re not alone, “Krasovskaya said. “Everyone was there for different individual costs, but they’re all here for the same big reason.”
Computer scientist Nooshin Meshkaty helped to organize the rally. She coordinated with volunteers, prospective cities and their police departments to ensure the protest ran smoothly.
Meshkaty left Iran when she was 15.
“Life was completely different there then,” Meshkaty said. “My life there was no different than my life here now. I want people to be happy & live in a place where they are valued, their life has value and humanity is promoted.”
Meshkaty, a self-proclaimed community activist, said that it took over 100 volunteers to help control the 20,000 demonstrators.
“It was amazing to see so many people caring to rise up and be the voice for people in Iran,” Meshkaty said. “To carry their message and try to bring awareness to the communities around us.”
Meshkaty said there has been a rally every week since Amini’s death in September and they will continue until Iranians regain the freedom they lost in 1979 when the Islamic Republic took over.