The Young Iranian man was overcome with excitement. Swinging a stick that once held his protest poster, he shouted "Down with the shah," then broke through the police barricade. Minutes later, the young man's nose was broken and his blood spurted on the grass of the Elipse behind the White House.
His spirits, however, remained undaunted.
"We flew in here (Monday) on the shah's money," said the University of Florida student, after stumbling to a nearby park bench and clearning his face. "You know, he paid the air fare plus expenses and $300 to anyone who would come to show their support for him. I'll take his money and demonstrate against him.To hell with him," the 23-year-old said.
Not far away, in Lafayette Park, thousands of other demonstrators marched in protest of yesterday's visit to Washington by the shah of Iran. For many of the protesters, most of whom were Iranian students studying in the U.S., it was the most exciting day they'd ever spent in this country, a time they say will be remembered upon their return to Iran to work.
This was more than a show of "force" against the shah and what the protesters called his facist tactics, some said. This was also a time to renew never been such a gathering of Iranian residents in the U.S.
"We've been looking forward to this for a month now," said one student from the University of Texas, who at first said he'd come strictly to protest the shah's visit. "We drove for over 40 hours. I have friends I haven't seen since I left Tehran" four years ago, he said.
"There has not been anything like this before," said another student protester. "For once, most of the politics (between various Iranian student factions) have been put aside. The Moslems, the middle class, everyone is united against the dictator," he said.
"It's a great thing in this country," said Arash Razmandeh, 27, a chemical engineering major at the University of Maryland. "People are not allowed the freedom to speak out like this at home, or to publish papers like this one," he said, waving a sheet of anti-shah literature.
As the protest continued into the early afternoon, a more relaxed atmosphere prevailed, replacing the tension that had led to clashes between police and demonstrators yesterday morning.
While most protestes continued to wear masks, fashioned from poster paper and cloth, others figured that they had made their point and began to strip them off.
Some demonstrators said the masks were to hide their identities from the SAVAK, the Iranian secret police, who protesters said would match their faces with photo files and harass their parents at home. Others said SAVAK would stake out airports and kidnap them, and still others said the masks was basically symbolic.
For the most part, the protesters said they did not want to identify themselves by name to reporters for fear of reprisals by SAVAK.
"The SAVAK are out here wearing masks too. It makes no difference. They know who you are anyway," said one student, snapping the rubber bank holding his paper mask onto his face. "This thing is stopping by blood."
"Put it back on, Raj, " a voice called out. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," the voice said with a spooky tone.
"They know who the major figures are anyway," the student said. "If you don't plan to go back (to Iran), it really makes no difference."
But most of the protesters interviewed said they intended to go back, either after the Shah was no longer head of state or while he remains, in order to harass him.
"I was sent over on a scholarship," said one Georgetown University student. "I am supposed to go back and work for the government but I don't see how I can. I have learned too much since I've been here. I can no longer return.
"If someone defends the shah, like I did at one time, you get a scholarship. Now I must be opposed to him," the student said.
"Fight, fight, fight the fascist shah," the student said, smiling through his mask.
One of the key organizers of yesterday's anti-shah demonstration was named "Sheila," a sociology student at the University of Illinois. She spoke to the crowd about a lack of educational opportunities for most young people in Iran, and how Iranian student here should not forget that there is work to be done at home.
During the past four years, the shah has given American colleges and universities an estimated $12 million for such things as endowed chairs. This, as well as a liberal scholarship program to help Iran overcome a shortage of techincal manpower, has resulted in 22,000 to 50,000 Iranian students now attending schools in the U.S.
While some students benefit from Iranian government scholarships, and others from their parents' financial states, still others say they have had to struggle for money to study abroad.
"I scraped and saved, my parents borrowed money from their friends and relatives and I came over here to stay with people I had never met; "one student demonstrator said yesterday. "Do you know what that is like, it is so scary. You cannot fail a test, your life depends on every test, how can you fail it?"
"When I go back," another student said, "I do not want to just be a member of the middle class. I want to take part in helping to overthrow the shah."
"I'm not going back until the shah goes," said another student. "You can protest all you want over here, but this is not Iran. You don't try things like this over there."