An impromptu rally gathered Sunday morning at the J.C. Nichols Fountain, with demonstrators displaying oversized images of a 16-year-old girl, blood on her face, killed on the streets of Tehran.
In the wake of the disputed elections in Iran earlier this month, historic crowds have assembled to protest, what many consider to be, a fraudulent process, rigged in favor of current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In Kansas City, several dozens Iranians echoed those sentiments, carrying signs that asked "Where Is My Vote?" and calling for peace and justice in their home country.
Many at the protest were hesitant to give their last names, fearing for their family members' safety in Iran and guarding hopes of returning to their home country in the future. One organizer said that, although Kansas City has a modest Iranian population, their rally mirrored many others around the U.S.
One demonstrator, Ana, said she was born in Tehran but has been living in Kansas City since she was 3-years-old. She watched the election results with concern, but what brought her to the street corner was the Iranian government's reaction to citizens' protest. "Innocent people are dying in Iran right now," she said. "I worry about my family. You can't walk on the streets of Tehran."
Pasha, wearing red and green bandanas tied around his biceps, waved an Iranian flag and led the group in chants for freedom in Iran. Though he was born in the U.S., Pasha's father is Iranian. "A grave injustice has been done," he said of the election, "and people are being killed because they want their voices to be heard." In his mind, the only option to end the violence is to "change the regime."
Mashid, an older woman standing quietly with a smaller placard, said she came to the U.S. when she was 22-years-old, two years after the 1979 revolution that instituted Islamic rule in Iran. Now, in just one generation, she hopes her country is on the verge of a second revolution predicated on expanded freedoms.
"We need to remove the government," she said. "Everything is fraud. ... I hope nobody else dies, but it's the only thing they can do. We want freedom."