Protesters Flood DTLA Streets Demanding Freedom For Iran And Rights For Iranian Women

Protesters flooded downtown L.A. streets Saturday in the largest of growing protests here over the death of Masha Amini, 22, and others fighting for women’s rights in Iran.

Marchers shouting “Free Iran” and carrying flags and homemade signs filled a route as far as the eye could see, beginning at Pershing Square and ending at City Hall .

“Women, Life, Freedom,” which has become a rallying cry in the wake of Amini’s death in custody of Iran’s morality police, was a frequent chant.

The Backstory

Amini was arrested in Tehran on Sept. 16 by Iran’s morality police, who accused her of not wearing a hijab, required for women since the Iranian Revolution. She died three days later Iranian authorities say the 22-year-old had a heart attack, witnesses say police beat her.

Since Amini’s death protests have grown throughout Iran and worldwide.

A woman hold up a photo of Masha Amini in front of a purple cloth banner reading "Résister!" with a raised fist. Other protesters help hold up the banner.

Activists protest in Paris on Friday.

(Thomas Samson


AFP via Getty Images)

Our newsroom recently talked to New York Times reporter Farnaz Fassihi, who heads their United Nations bureau, to put the protests in context.

Fassihi described growing intensity, numbers and rage that now reflects not just Amini’s death, but more wide-sweeping issues of women’s rights in the strict Islamic state.

“The crowds are chanting for the end of the Islamic Republic. They are directly targeting the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and calling for his death and calling him a dictator, which is extremely brave,” she said. “Women are ripping off their head scarves on university campuses, in the streets of Tehran and burning them in the middle of the street. It’s quite extraordinary because they are fearless.”

Why Now

Fassihi says the reaction is “an explosion of years and years of pent up frustrations of oppression, of economic hardship and of religious restrictions.”

Why The Reaction In L.A. Is So Strong

An outsized portion of the Iranian diaspora make their homes in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. More than one in three Iranian immigrants in the U.S. are here (more than half are in California overall.)

Tawny Mazarei, board president of the Iranian American Women’s Foundation, called it “an incredibly emotional and traumatic time for all of us.”

“Just to watch what happened to Mahsa — and also what is happening to so many other women who are standing up for their rights for what happened to Mahsa — and the turmoil that the country is going through,” she said. “It’s been an incredibly emotional experience.”

Scenes From The Protest

A poster shows a woman standing above a crowd with her hair uncovered and her fist raised in the air

A rally called by Iranian-Americans for Justice and Human Rights in downtown L.A.

(Courtesy Iranian-Americans for Justice and Human Rights)

The protest officially began at 10:30 a.m. at Pershing Square.

Protesters hold flags, signs and an image of Masha Amini with the words in English and Farsi: Women, life, Freedom

Images of Masha Amini, the 22-year-old who died in the custody of Iranian morality police, were common along the protest route.

(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

Signs read "Freedom for Iran" and "Iranian Lives Matter."

Many protesters carried Iranian flags.

(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

A mostly female group of drummers, women and girls, march in white on a city street.

The sound of drums punctuated the protest route.

(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

Women with their faces painted green, white and red wear shirts with Masha Amini's face.

Protesters making their way from Pershing Square to City Hall shouted and chanted.

(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

Protesters fists are raised in the air with the L.A. skyline in the background

(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

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