Trial set to begin in 'Irvine 11' student protest case
The trial of 10 students charged with misdemeanors for allegedly taking part in a protest against an Israeli ambassador's appearance at UC Irvine is scheduled to begin Wednesday afternoon with opening statements.
The students -- known as the Irvine 11 -- are accused of repeatedly interrupting Michael Oren when he spoke in front of hundreds on campus in February 2010.
The Orange County district attorney chose to file misdemeanor charges originally against 11 students in February of this year after a grand jury investigation presented its findings last summer. Charges against one of the 11 defendants were tentatively dropped pending completion of community service.
Both sides are arguing a free-speech case. The D.A. says the students denied the ambassador his right to speak; the students say they were practicing their 1st Amendment rights and should not be criminalized for protesting.
The students from UC Irvine and UC Riverside face up to six months in jail if convicted.
-- Kimi Yoshino
Photo: College students protest in front of the offices of the Orange County district attorney against charges being brought against the 11 students who interrupted a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times