Irvine 11 Trial: Students Planned a 'Chicago-Style Disruption,' Emails Reveal

Categories: School Daze
irvine11trial.jpg
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
​Trying to show jurors that the Muslim students on trial did not act spontaneously in their disruption of the speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, prosecutors presented a series of emails that were sent by the defendants in the days leading up to the protest on Feb. 8, 2010.  

The emails, obtained from Google by search warrant and shown today in court, discussed plans for a disruption similar to a 2009 incident at the University of Chicago, where about 30 demonstrators stood up in the crowd, one by one, to protest a lecture being given by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

One email, dated Feb. 5, 2010, contained the minutes from a general assembly meeting of UC Irvine's Muslim Student Union (MSU). The goal of the protest, the minutes stated, was to "send the speaker a message" and show him that "he can't just go to a campus and say whatever he wants." Included in the document were plans to "disrupt the whole event" and "shut down with individual disruption." 

An email that followed addressed possible consequences of the demonstration--students predicted that they might be arrested and escorted out, but "nothing permanent" would happen "based on [the] history of UCI PD." It also warned student demonstrators: "Do not resist police if you are told to leave."   

And then there was another email that discussed a plan to detach the student organization from the protest, stating that the demonstration is "officially not an MSU thing" and "to the outside, we are acting on our own accord."    
 
The Orange County District Attorney's Office has charged 10 UCI and UC Riverside students (down from 11)--Mohamed Mohy-Eldeen Abdelgany, Khalid Gahgat Akari, Aslam Abbasi Akhtar, Joseph Tamim Haider, Taher Mutaz Herzallah, Shaheen Waleed Nassar, Mohammad Uns Qureashi, Ali Mohammad Sayeed, Osama Ahmen Shabaik and Asaad Mohamedidris Traina--with misdemeanor charges of disrupting and/or conspiring to disrupt a public speech. Lead prosecutor Dan Wagner has argued that the defendants did not want to engage Oren in an "exchange of ideas," but instead intended to "shut him down."
 
However, after today's court proceedings, Kifah Shah, spokesperson for the Stand with the 11 campaign, said she believes the emails are actually "evidence that [the defendants] were staying within the boundaries of the law." She believes the OCDA has "set a very dangerous precedent of stifling critical discourse across college campuses."   

Earlier in the day, prosecutors brought to the witness stand Rhoda Harris, who attended Oren's speech. She said she found it "frightening" when the Ambassador had to be removed from the stage following the demonstration. "One can voice opposition, but not at the expense of someone else's voice," she said. 


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Jeff Klives
Jeff Klives

These kids are confused.   They think they are fighting for "justice" and are people of high moral standards but after the incident they lied to the administration and feel their rights of free speech means that others cannot be heard.   They have a lot of growing up to do and their supporters are dumb as rocks always giving the bullet points that CAIR tells them to say.     

The Minuteman Project
The Minuteman Project

The Orange County District Attorney is doing the right thing.  Prosecution of those who stiffle the free speech of another is long overdue everywhere in the United States, especially on college and university campuses.   

While I do not wish ill will toward the defendants in this case, I do support the right of everyone in the world to be able to speak his or her mind. That right should be freely exercised without the messenger being subjected to the sort of interference and intimidation that selfishly stops free speech. 

Regardless of the outcome of this trial, at least it has established a necessary precedent favoring free speech for "everybody."  And what's wrong with that?

By the way, kudos to the ACLU for supporting my right to free speech at the University of Nevada - Reno two years ago...after anti-free speech scoundrels (posing as enlightened students?) successfully had my continued appearances at Columbia and Harvard stopped by acts of violence (Columbia) and ultra-left extremist hatred (Harvard). 

Jim Gilchrist, President, The Minuteman Project 

909Jeff
909Jeff

Lets not forget either that none of these 11 students are being prosecuted for what they said or that they made anti Semetic remarks, as would have been the case if they were in france, Just ask that Galliano dude how that worked out.  They are being prosecuted for the manner in which they chose to deliver their message.

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

"The emails, obtained from Google by search warrant and shown today in court, "

Pay attention kids -- do NOT use Gmail.  Use a secure offshore email service.  Also, there are several web sites that will mask your identity when using Google search. 

Bob
Bob

Before the DA files charges against the Fullerton Police Officers he needs to make the case air tight. The worst thing that could happen would be if the case was filed and then they were found not guilty because of something that is overlooked. I have no problem with it taking this long as long as the truth comes forward. Be it they are guilty or not.

On another note, why is the DA to blame for the "Irvine/Muslim" case? If it is such a silly little case, why dont the students just plead guilty? The evidence against them is overwhelming. Yes, I have seen the whole case. I have been in the courtroom watching.

Paul Lucas
Paul Lucas

Am I the only one who is amazed at how much effort and time the District Attorney has put into prosecutng this case in comparrison to how much time and effort he has put into filing charges and prosecuting the six fullerton police officers who beat Kelly Thomas to death?

Brooke
Brooke

that's because we live in a police state,  people are just starting to wake up to it... Kelly Thomas is one example of the police brutality happening all over the country.. they have already taken away our rights (Patriot Act)  (food & Safety Modernization Act) . DA's all over the  US are filing charges against citizens for recording by video phone  police in public. The more people start realizing what is really going on the better. We are too soft, too comfortable, until it hits close to home people do not have the drive or desire to make a change for thebetter.

Bob
Bob

You can't use the first amendment as both a shield and a sword. The students should have thought of that before they decided do deny someone else's first amendment rights.

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