UC Irvine professor Rei Terada has taught on the subject of protests and civil disobedience, and said how the so-called Irvine 11 acted at the Israeli Ambassador event is “a normal way for students to protest an event they object to.”
The professor of comparative literature took the witness stand today as the defense team continues to argue that the defendants were following the norms and customs of protests throughout history, at the university and beyond.
Terada watched the nearly 45-minute video of the February 2010 speech, which included warnings and scoldings from UCI Chancellor Michael Drake and professor Mark Petracca before, during and after the students shouted out in protest. (“This is not a street corner–this is a university,” Petracca stated.)
As someone who has organized and attended 20 years of controversial events, Terada said it is “very rare” for an official to restrain the tone of the event before it occurs. She said she believes neither Petracca nor Drake had the authority to make those rules.
“If the top official at a university does not have the authority . . . who does?” asked lead prosecutor Dan Wagner.
Terada responded, “I don’t think there is an authority in that situation, where many people object to the event.”
The 10 UCI and UC Riverside students face misdemeanor charges of disrupting and/or conspiring to disrupt a public speech. If convicted, they face up to six months in jail.
The trial continues on Thursday.