800px-professor_william_ayersEmbattled former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill spoke only for a few minutes to a crowd of about 1,000 people last night, inviting them to attend his wrongful-termination trial in Denver on Monday in support of freedom of speech, according to Boulder’s Daily Camera.

His essay comparing victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to Nazi Adolf Eichmann ignited a firestorm several years ago, and in the aftermath, CU scrutinized Churchill’s academic work. In 2007, he was fired for plagiarism and misrepresentation of historical facts, and on Monday the trial will begin to get his job back.

Bill Ayers (pictured), a member of the 1960s radical group The Weather Underground, came to defend Churchill, saying there has been a “silencing” of educators around the country. Ayers made headlines last year as then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s adversaries attempted to link the two.

Andrew Crown of the College Republicans asked Churchill why professors should be able to hide behind the shield of tenure. “The same reason you cannot pull a judge out because you do not like his rulings,” Churchill replied (via The Denver Post).