Jury selection is underway this week for the trial of the Irvine 11, the students from UC Irvine and UC Riverside who are facing criminal charges following their non-violent civil disobedience protest against an Israeli official in February 2010.
The Los Angeles Times reported that prospective jurors:
were asked a variety of questions in an eight-page questionnaire, including whether they studied at UC Irvine, if their association with the school would affect their ability to be fair and impartial and if they are familiar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Daily Pilot reported.
Other questions included whether jurors support the Israeli or Palestinian side in the conflict, their feelings toward the state of Israel and if they harbor any negative feelings toward Muslims.
As The Electronic Intifada has reported, the students — all of them Muslim — interrupted a speech at UC Irvine given by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren in which he defended Israel’s attacks on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09. Approximately 1,400 Palestinians, including several hundred children, were killed in the 22-day assault on Gaza. During Oren’s speech, the students stood up one by one and directly confronted his defense of Israeli policies in Gaza and called him a war criminal.
Following their protest, the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) office launched an unprecedented series of investigations against the students and is seeking criminal charges against them on two misdemeanor counts — each holding a maximum prison sentence of one year.
Lawyers for the students have called the OCDA’s actions “selective and discriminatory,” and student groups, civil rights organizations, university professors and legal experts have signed petitions demanding that the charges against the Irvine 11 be dropped unequivocally.
In the last month, one of the Irvine 11 students had his charges dropped. The remaining ten students will be in court starting this week and heading into the next few weeks.
I will be going to Orange County this week to sit in court and report on the first leg of the Irvine 11 trial.
For information on solidarity actions and for more background on the case, visit the Stand With the Eleven website at www.irvine11.com.