KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With war continuing in Ukraine and protests ringing out in Iran, Kansas City demonstrators made their voices heard Saturday at the Mill Creek Park fountain near the Country Club Plaza.
"It's definitely important to see these two different communities come together and showing their solidarity for both countries," said supporter Mercedeh Tavacoli.
The cold November air did not deter Tavacoli from the opportunity to speak out on the rights being taken away from the Ukrainian and Iranian peoples.
"Violence [is] happening in Iran, for people wanting to speak out, for wanting basic human rights, for wanting freedom. To be able to wear what they want, practice what they want," she said. "Iran is actually helping Russia with what they’re doing in Ukraine, so that’s what brought our two communities together. And there have been joint protests and rallies around the country and world as well."
The Ukrainian community has held protests for the majority of the calendar year since Russia invaded the country, but there are long-term concerns about the winter that lies ahead in Europe.
"Russia seems to continue to target critical infrastructure, like power grids and everything. It's just going to be devastating," said Paige Barrows, who served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine for two years. "It's hard to even think about it. I've been dreading it for the last couple of months knowing that the winter is coming."
A key Russian city was liberated by Ukrainian armed forces, but it did not end the conflict.
"For every little bit of hope that Ukraine has, there's just something that's just terrible that follows it," Barrows said.
The goal of the two communities is to educate their neighbors and build understanding to better grasp their fears of what lies ahead for their people.
"We have so many of our scholars, engineers, architects, doctors, researchers that are a part of this community, and without being from Ukraine, without being from Iran, they wouldn't be in Kansas City," Tavacoli said. "And they wouldn't be able to provide to their community in Kansas City."