UC Irvine Law Dean Disagrees with Charges for ‘Irvine 11’ Who Disrupted Speech
Eleven Muslim students face misdemeanor charges for disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador at the University of California at Irvine last year.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas charged the so-called “Irvine 11” on Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports. Each defendant is charged with one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to disturb a meeting and one misdemeanor count of the disturbance of a meeting, according to the Orange County Register.
Rackauckas said in a statement that he filed the charges “because there was an organized attempt to squelch the speaker” at 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,” he said.
UC Irvine’s law school was one of the sponsors of the speech. Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky had supported school punishment short of expulsion for the students. But he tells the Los Angeles Times he believed “university discipline was sufficient” and he didn’t think criminal charges were warranted.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California released a statement saying it was “deeply troubled” by the decision to press charges, according to the Register story. The group’s incoming director, Hector Villagra, said the action “will undoubtedly intimidate students in Orange County and across the state and discourage them from engaging in any controversial speech or protest.”