From the gray-haired woman shouting "this is my country - Get out of here!" to the construction worker who let loose a rebel yell and raised a clenched fist, from apprehensive tourists caught in snarled traffic to a mounted pahlanx of U.S. Park Police, Washington yesterday found itself confronting yet another noisy demonstration of Iranian students.
About 600 masked protesters shouting "Death to the shah" meandered to the State Department, to the White House, The Washington Post and the National Press Building, condemning the Carter administration's support of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and protesting what they say is bassed and incomplete press coverage of the current unrest in Iran.
The protesters - mostly young activists belonging to various factions of the Iranian Students Association - did not appear bent on confrontation as sometimes in the past. The march line was noisy but orderly. One protester was accompanied by a young child in a stroller.
D.C. Police shepherded the demonstrators along, stopping traffic at intersections. Other police, including heavily armed Park Police, watched the march line with a wary eye from a distance. But the riot batons and the tear gas were never used.
"The Park Police does not have a very good memory of us," said a smiling demonstration organizer who gave his name only as Farhad. He was reerring to the violence that erupted between protestors and police when the shah visited the White House a year ago this week.
Yesterday, however, the demonstrators and D.C. authorities were going out of their way to cooperate with each other.
The heavy sticks the Iranians had used to carry their signs and sometimes as weapons last year were nowhere to be seen yesterday.
Still, among some onlookers, fears persisted.
Several tourists rushed to slam down the locks of their car doors. Others moved with equal speed to get photographs of the receiving part of the Washaington scene.
Police, meanwhile, were making their own pictures. In front of the White House, a television film crew was photographing a police film crew photographing the television crew.
Throughout the day, demonstrators expressed frustration at their inability to generate more intense concern among Americans about the current upheavals in Iran. They marched through the George Washington University campus on the way to the State Department and made a lengthy detour through the old downtown section of the city along 9th Street NW to reach the National Press Building but the demonstrators gathered few non-Iranian participants.
One young woman, whose voice had cracked from hours of yelling into a portable public address system, said news service accounts of the strikes, riots and military crackdown in Iran have been incomplete and distorted.
As the demostrators gathered on 15th Street NW in front of The Washington Post, leaders decried the Post's editorial support of the Shah's attempts to cope with the current unrest and said news accounts inaccurately portrayed the opposition movement as "fanatical and anti-modernization."
Demonstration leaders acknowledged that opposition to the shah ranges widely from followers of the conservative Islamic Shiite sect to Marxists, socialists and other unaligned leftists.
"We have many ideologies," one protestor said, "but we are united in overthrowing the shah."