Simon Wiesenthal Center supports charges against protesters who interrupted Israeli ambassador
A leading Jewish organization on Tuesday came out in support of the Orange County district attorney's decision to file criminal charges against 11 students who interrupted a speech last year at UC Irvine by the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
In a statement on its website, the Simon Wiesenthal Center commended Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas, who charged the so-called "Irvine 11" with two misdemeanor counts each of planning to and disrupting a public meeting or lawful assembly.
"The public needs to be sensitized to the ramifications of disrupting someone else's free speech," said Rabbi Aron Hier, campus outreach director at the center.
The students, who range in age from 19 to 23, denied the allegations against them through an attorney who was advising them during a grand jury investigation. The Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine, to which some of the charged students belong, has also long contended that its members didn't break the law. The 11 students, who attend UC Irvine and UC Riverside, are to be arraigned March 11. If convicted, their sentences could range from probation to six months in jail.
-- Sarah Peters and Mona Shadia, Daily Pilot/Times Community News
Photo: Tony Rackauckas. Credit: Los Angeles Times