Jury deliberations begin this morning in the case of 10 students charged with misdemeanors stemming from an orchestrated series of interruptions during a February 2010 speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at the University of California, Irvine.
In closing arguments, attorneys on both sides claimed the case is about preserving First Amendment rights. Defense attorneys say their clients exercised their rights to protest. But in doing so, prosecutors say, they violated Oren's right to be heard.
The 10 defendants are among 11 people arrested during the speech. The disruptions were spelled out in great detail by emails distributed by UC Irvine's Muslim Student Union (MSU). They stood up and shouted accusations of murder and genocide at the ambassador, before being escorted out by police. A large group of cheering pro-Palestinian supporters staged a walkout shortly after the students' disruption.