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Court upholds conviction of Irvine protesters

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A California state appeals court has upheld the conviction of 10 students at U.C. Irvine who disrupted a 2010 speech by Michael Oren, then Israeli ambassador to the United States.

The protesters interrupted Oren repeatedly, calling him a “mass murderer” and a “war criminal.” The heckling caused him to pause his speech amid calls for order, and he curtailed his planned hourlong talk to 12 minutes.

In 2011, the students were convicted of violating a state law prohibiting the disruption or breaking up of a lawful assembly. The appeals court upheld the conviction. The defendants face up to a year in prison.

Marc Stern, general counsel of the American Jewish Committee, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of the prosecution along with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Jewish National Fund, said his group was “pleased that the appellate division concurred with our view that the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech may not be invoked to protect those who intentionally disrupt a lawful meeting.” — jta


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