SANTA ANA — Ten Muslim college students censored the Israeli ambassador to the United States when he tried to give an address atUC Irvine, a prosecutor argued in closing statements of the so-called Irvine 11 trial on Monday.
Orange County Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner said the protesters interfered with Ambassador Michael Oren's right to free speech by temporarily disrupting his February 2010 campus address.
"Who is the censor in this case?" he asked the jury. "Right there — 10 of them."
Wagner said actions by the sevenUC Irvine and three UC Riverside students amounted to a "heckler's veto."
"This is about freedom of speech," Wagner said. "This is why we're all here."
Defense attorneys also called on Constitutional protections in their closing arguments, saying the district attorney was chilling political speech by prosecuting the protesters after the fact.
In her closing statements, defense attorney Reem Salahi said that while politeness works "when you visit your grandmother," such courtesy isn't necessary in a university setting, where ideas are freely exchanged.