The Irvine 11, a group of students accused of disrupting a campus speech by the Israeli ambassador to the US at the University of California at Irvine a year ago, have been indicted on misdemeanor charges.
Prosecutors allege that each of the indicted — who include eight Irvine students and three graduates of UC Riverside — conspired to disrupt the event and then “deliberately and intentionally interrupted Ambassador Oren during his speech one at a time.” Each faces a single misdemeanor count of conspiracy to disturb a meeting as well as a misdemeanor count of the disturbance of a meeting — if convicted, they could face as much as six months in jail.
UC Irvine has already brought disciplinary action against the students involved, as well as suspending the campus Muslim Student Union and placing it on probation.
In an editorial published two days before the indictments came down, the Los Angeles Times argued that bringing charges would be “overkill, a punishment out of proportion to the offense”:
Is it really necessary to threaten the futures of students who engaged in a nonviolent protest that didn’t, ultimately, stop Oren from delivering his remarks? These students have been punished already, in an effort to make clear the difference between legitimate protest and their unacceptable actions. We hope they’ve learned a lesson. Now it’s time to move on.
The students will be arraigned on March 11. All plan to plead not guilty.
Update | Both the Dean of the UC Irvine law school and the ACLU of Southern California have spoken out against the indictments.