District Attorney Charges 11 in Disruption of Irvine Speech

February 7, 2011

The Orange County District Attorney on Friday charged 11 men affiliated with the Muslim Student Union at the University of California at Irvine with two misdemeanor counts each: one count of conspiracy to disrupt a meeting and one count of disturbing a meeting. If convicted, the students could face up to six months in jail. The charges stem from an incident a year ago in which members of the student group repeatedly interrupted a talk at Irvine by Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States. Leaders of the Muslim student group have denied that they did anything wrong, and some at Irvine who criticized the heckling have said that this is a matter that should be adjudicated by the university (which has already done so). District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, however, said in announcing the charges: "This case is being filed because there was an organized attempt to squelch the speaker, who was invited to speak to a group at UCI. These defendants meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting. This is a clear violation of the law and failing to bring charges against this conduct would amount to a failure to uphold the Constitution."

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