On September 23, 2011, ten students from the UC system called the Irvine 11 were found guilty of conspiracy and disturbing the peace. The case began in February 2010 when eleven students disrupted a speech by Michael Oren to protest the injustices committed through Israeli force and propaganda. The students left peacefully but were then arrested.
Currently, the Muslim Student Union (MSU) at UC Irvine was suspended for one quarter and continues to face probation for two academic years. The Orange County District Attorney’s office charged the Irvine 11 with “breaking the law by organizing in emails and meetings to disrupt Oren’s speech.”
It is obvious that the Irvine 11 were prosecuted because of the nature of the Israeli occupation and because the students are Muslim. Israel has shown itself committed to repressing not only the people of Palestine, but of all forms of solidarity with the people of Palestine. Israel has been a collaborator in the creation of islamaphobia, in an effort to equate muslims and brown people, and therefore Palestinians, as terrorists.
We are completely appalled with the jury’s ruling and it is deeply troubling that California announced this verdict only a day after Troy Davis’ death and we must acknowledge the parallels between both cases. Both cases involve repression of a minority people of color. Both cases help to illuminate their condition within the United States in particular and within a system of racism in general.
The prosecutors see concerned peoples and community members organizing themselves to make their voices heard as acting out against the law. Equating “organizing in meetings and emails” to “breaking the law” would be laughable if the attack on the Irvine 11 wasn’t already clouded with more critical and difficult issues – such as our incredibly unjust court system, state repression and the occupation of Palestine. The UC system chose to make an example out of the Irvine 11 and stifle all forms of student protests throughout the state, setting a dangerous precedent for free speech and political organizing.
We stand in full solidarity with the Irvine 11 and we will continue to support all efforts to make change from below for emancipatory education and environment. Likewise, we stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine!
Listen world, you will see! Palestine will be free!