Closing arguments concluded yesterday in the Irvine 11 trial. Twelve jurors are in deliberations, weighing about a week of testimony.
The defendants--Mohamed Mohy-Eldeen Abdelgany, Khalid Gahgat Akari, Aslam Abbasi Akhtar, Joseph Tamim Haider, Taher Mutaz Herzallah, Shaheen Waleed Nassar, Mohammad Uns Qureashi, Ali Mohammad Sayeed, Osama Ahmen Shabaik and Asaad Mohamedidris Traina--are charged with disturbing a public meeting and engaging in a conspiracy to do so. If convicted, they face up to a year in jail.
"These aren't hoodlums drinking in the parking lot," said defense attorney Jacqueline Goodman in her closing arguments. She called them "heroes" for their protest at the Feb. 8, 2010 speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, where they were arrested.
"Are they criminals or are they activists?" she asked the jury.
Lead prosecutor Dan Wagner argued that the students were conscious of their guilt, showing the jury one protest planning email that stated "don't share this with anyone."
"The defendants were obviously bright enough to get into a prestigious university," Wagner said. "They understood the widely held norm. But they didn't care."
This morning, Jacob Boyd sat outside the courtroom at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, awaiting the verdict. He's been watching the trial almost every day and says the case is a "free speech versus free speech issue" and has been "well argued on both sides."
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As a member of the Jewish community, he says it's tricky topic as he believes nobody wants to stop free speech. Rather, people are simply looking for respect.
A "not guilty" verdict, he said, "may signal to pro-Palestinians that it's okay to harass Jewish speakers."
Stay tuned for updates.