students are available.
The trove includes email threads sent among the defendants and video of the
UC Irvine and UC Riverside students shouting down Israeli Ambassador Michael
Oren’s Feb. 8, 2010, speech at UCI.
The district attorney rarely releases evidence online but did so this time
because of intense public interest, said D.A. spokeswoman Farrah Emami.
Among the evidence released was 45 minutes of video from Oren’s speech before
an audience of 700 in a UCI ballroom. In the video, the students shout, “Michael
Oren: Propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!” and other phrases
critical of Israeli policies toward Palestinians. The defendants, all of them
young men, are Muslim.
Also released was a video shown to jurors during the trial of an unidentified
person gathering protesters outside saying, “We pretty much shut him down,” a
phrase that Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner quoted repeatedly during the
trial to describe how Oren was illegally disrupted.
Email threads among the students planning their disruption were also made
available to the public. The emails indicated the protest was planned ahead of
time, as the D.A. contended.
“For those who did not attend the meeting, after extensive discussion we
decided that we will be staging a University of Chicago-style disruption of the
Ambassador’s speech,” one of the emails states, a reference to an earlier
protest in Chicago.
Comments in the emails are also highly critical of Oren, at one time accusing
him of war crimes, and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
“Oren is someone who is coming to spew Israeli propaganda and try to
propagate the idea that Israel is a country simply defending itself from its
Palestinian oppressors,” one states. “This is significant for a number of
reasons, and as Muslims and supporters of the plight of the Palestinians, it is
our duty to come and speak out against such a person.
“It is our duty to show the people who are going to listen that this man is a
war criminal, and we will not allow a platform for him to spread his lies on our
campus, whether it be at UCI or any other campus around the nation.”
After charges were filed, prominent Jewish leaders in Los Angeles showed
support for Prosecutor Tony Rackauckas afterward, saying the defendants acted
illegally and defamed Oren. A small group of Jewish leaders said they disagreed
with the defendants’ statements but said they should not have been prosecuted
for speaking out.
The D.A.’s office was unable to discuss the case for about four months after
Judge Peter J. Wilson issued a gag order barring the D.A.’s office, as well as
the defendants and defense lawyers from discussing the case in May.
Ten of the 11 original defendants were convicted Friday for conspiring to
disrupt and disrupting an event. Another defendant accepted community service in
exchange for a plea agreement that will clear his record.
The evidence can be viewed at www.orangecountyda.com/home/index.asp?page=486.
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