Several hundred members of Los Angeles' Iranian expatriate community, the largest in the United States, turned out on Saturday for a convention in support of pro-democracy protesters in Iran.
Galvanized by protests in Iranian cities following the country's admission that it shot down a Ukrainian airliner and by the January 3 killing of Qassem Soleimani, Iran's most influential military commander, attendees of the conference in downtown Los Angeles pledged to stand by their fellow Iranians as they take to the streets.
In what Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called a "disastrous mistake", Iran said on Saturday that a missile fired in error on Wednesday by its air defenses while on alert after Iranian missile strikes on U.S. targets in Iraq brought down the plane. Iran had denied for days after the crash that it had shot down the airliner.
Even as top Iranian officials and the military issued apologies, protests against authorities spread across Iran including in the capital Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan, Hamedan and Orumiyeh. U.S. President Donald Trump, who has said he does not seek "regime change" in Iran, took to Twitter to express his support for the demonstrators, writing, "We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage."