Southern California: Irvine 11 trial begins after a week of jury selection

Demonstrating support for the Irvine 11

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada

09/07/2011

Following a week of selections from a pool of nearly 400 potential jurors, opening arguments in the Irvine 11 trial formally begin Wednesday in Orange County, California.

Defense attorneys for the group of Muslim students from UC Irvine and UC Riverside who interrupted a speech by an Israeli official in February 2010 will argue against the “selective and discriminatory” nature of the Orange County Disctrict Attorney’s office’s year-long attacks and investigations that could result in up to two years in jail for each student on criminal misdemeanor charges.

I attended some of the jury selection process in the OC courthouse last week, and will again be on hand throughout the trial to update our readers on the ongoing process during the next few weeks and after the trial ends on 23 September with a final verdict.  Continue reading

UC Irvine: Stand With the Eleven–protest Israeli Ambassador at UCI


Feb 11, 2010
VISIT http://www.irvine11.com for updates

On February 8th, 2010 Israeli Ambassador Micheal Oren spoke at UCIrvine. During his speech Oren was interrupted by 11 protesters who had every right to speak out. Now they are charged with disrupting the peace and are being targeted by hostile university administrators.

On UC Irvine’s selective punishment against the Justice for Palestine movement:

Univ. of California-Irvine: 11 Students prosecuted, student group banned for protest of Israeli speech

[As the US student movement grows, a central focus is building support for justice in Palestine, and opposition to the exclusivist Jewish state of Israel with its history of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and brutal attacks such as the siege of Gaza.  In California, the student campaign has taken up the struggle to boycott Israeli goods and divest public funds from investment in Israel, and it has challenged propagandists of Israeli’s denial of human rights for Palestine.  In February, 2010, a student protest at UC Irvine was suppressed by police.  Students were arrested, and a student group was banned from campus.  The story continues, below.  For more information, see  http://www.irvine11.com/ — Frontlines ed.]
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The Stand with the Eleven Campaign mobilizes community support & raises awareness about the Irvine 11, who are unjustly facing prosecution by the Orange County DA for protesting during a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.

What Happened?

“Michael Oren, propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!”

Unable to continue his intended statement, this student’s voice of protest was quickly drowned out by the threats and verbal harassment of others in the crowd.

A little over a year after Israel’s massacre in the Gaza Strip, the student was protesting a visit by Michael Oren, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, for his refusal to acknowledge Israel’s war crimes and violations of humanitarian law.

A police officer walked up to the row from which the protester had stood up to be heard. Accompanied with backup, he gestured to the protester to leave the event. The protester willingly stepped out and was led by police out of the hall into another room where he was patted down and arrested.

Another nine individuals chose to rise up and exercise their right to free speech by sharing their own statements throughout the first half of the event. Each time, there was no resistance, no violence and no misconduct. After making his statement, each student would readily follow police orders to leave the room. Despite each individual’s ready compliance with officers, throughout the event school officials consistently felt the need to reassure the crowd that consequences were to be had, disciplinary action was to be taken, and possible suspension and expulsion was in order if the individuals continued to practice their freedom of speech.

After the tenth individual was escorted out by the police, about a third of the room, consisting of students from different races, ethnicities and religions, peacefully rose from their chairs and marched out chanting slogans, calling for justice both at home and in Palestine. During this time, the cops discreetly arrested one individual – a young man who was a part of the chanting crowd – whose reason for arrest remains unknown. This brought the number of arrests to eleven: the Irvine Eleven. Continue reading