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Activists protest 'Irvine 11' case at court hearing

March 12, 2011 |  8:42 am

A court hearing involving 11 student activists accused of disrupting a UC Irvine speech by the Israeli ambassador to the United States prompted more heated exchanges and protests Friday.

Attorneys for the eight UC Irvine and three UC Riverside students -- known as the "Irvine 11" -- denounced the misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and disrupting a meeting. About 100 supporters, many with tape over their mouths to symbolize what they called an assault on free speech, also gathered at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Defense attorney Dan Stormer called the allegations an "absolute affront to the Constitution."

Prosecutors claim they're protecting speakers from being drowned out by organized disruptors. "The case is a clear violation of law, both in writing and on video," said Susan Schroeder, chief of staff for the district attorney. "We had no choice but to file."

Read the full story here.

--Joseph Serna, Daily Pilot / Times Community News

Photo: Irvine 11 supporters tape their mouths closed during a newss conference Friday. Credit: Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot