PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of people gathered in Portland, Beaverton and Vancouver on Thursday to protest potential war between the United States and Iran.

In Portland, activists gathered at the north end of the Hawthorne Bridge from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. People lined the pedestrian walkway on the bridge, waving signs and chanting.

The demonstrators said they wanted to make their voices heard to prevent a deadly situation.

Kate Sharaf, the organizer of the rally on the Hawthorne Bridge, said the gathering was part of a wider national day of action called for by Move On and Indivisible.

“Hopefully, we are in a situation where it is going to de-escalate but I think that it could very easily re-escalate,” Sharaf said. “And it’s a really important moment for Americans to make their voices heard and say, ‘We do not want to get into another war.'”

Other groups gathered for rallies at Esther Short Park in Vancouver and Cedar Mill in Washington County.

The co-leader of Indivisible in Cedar Mill, Karyn Servian, said parents shouldn’t have to see their children go off to war.

“Today’s action is about sending a clear message: We are tired of sending our young men and women off to die — because the one percent, their children don’t go off to die — it’s our children that go die,” she said.

Brandon Morgove said Thursday’s rally was his first protest but he’s been worried about rising tensions for a while.

“It seemed like it kept on building and building and then actually I thought it was just going to explode,” he said. “I thought we might be in an unstoppable war and so somehow I think the last two days have been a miracle of de-escalation.”

Despite that sentiment, many at the rallies felt the protests were still necessary to prevent the situation from escalating again.

“I don’t see the situation as stable; I know this administration tends to flip flop on its foreign policy,” added Morgove.

“There is a spiral of violence and every act of violence begets violence,” said Lou Desitter, another protester.

‘A little bit nervous’

Tensions between the United States and Iran have Iranians living in Portland worried about what will happen next.

Jason Rostami, who owns the Metroman salon in the Pearl District, said the hostility seen from the Iranians in the media is just a small percentage of people, he said.

“To be honest I am a little bit nervous and I hope there won’t be war between these two countries,” he told KOIN 6 News. “There’s been a lot of animosity between these two countries and I like that they come sit at the table and they talk.”

Asked if he’s worried about discrimination, he said people in Portland have been kind. He wants others to continue not to judge someone based on their nationality.

Activists hold signs on the Hawthorne Bridge to show their opposition to a US-Iran war, January 9, 2020 (KOIN)

“I love this city, I love the people, I love this country. Even though I don’t have a family here, but I have 4 employees who (are) like my family.”

Iranian students at Portland State University gathered Wednesday night to discuss their concerns.

KOIN 6 News spoke with a former PSU student from Iran who now works in the Portland metro area. He said the reports about potential war makes him worry about his family back in Iran as well as those he’s come to know and love in Oregon.

“I also care about all the Americans, all the casualties in the region — Iraqis, Syrians. It’s not going to be good for any sides of the conflict, that’s for sure,” he said.

A peace sign is held aloft at an antiwar rally on the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, January 9, 2020 (KOIN)