During the Jan. 10, 2017 Senate confirmation hearings for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Alabama Senator Richard Selby said that Sessions’ history of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” Hearing this, Desiree Fairooz, a 61-year-old woman who was present at the hearings, laughed out loud.
Fairooz attended the hearings as a member of the pro-LGBTQ, anti-war and anti-racism activist group Code Pink, and she laughed because Session’s “well-documented” history fighting for equality includes baselessly suing black civil rights workers in 1985 for registering black voters (the court threw out the case as unfounded) and supporting the Supreme Court repeal of key parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a law that once helped ease racist voter suppression laws nationwide.
“I just couldn’t hold it,” Fairooz told The New York Times. “It was spontaneous. It was an immediate rejection of what I considered an outright lie or pure ignorance.”
Because she laughed, Fairooz was forced out of the hearings by two security guards and charged with disorderly conduct and demonstrating on capitol grounds.
Here is footage of Fairooz’s removal from the hearings:
Another protester escorted out of Sessions hearing. Her original offense appeared to be simply laughing. pic.twitter.com/p6lWzBVFRW
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) January 10, 2017
Fairooz and other hearing attendees assert that her laughter was reflexive, did not disrupt the proceedings and that other attendees had laughed during other parts of the hearing. She pled not guilty and refused a plea bargain but was convicted by jury this last Wednesday. She could face up to 12 months in prison and a $2,000 fine.
In a statement released shortly before her conviction, Fairooz said:
“I felt it was my responsibility as a citizen to dissent at the confirmation hearing of Senator Jeff Sessions, a man who professes anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT policies, who has voted against several civil rights measures and who jokes about the white supremacist terrorist group the Ku Klux Klan.”
A black former assistant U.S. attorney, Thomas Figures, had alleged that Sessions’ joked about the KKK while investigating the lynching of a black men by two Klansman in 1981.
(Featured image by Bill Oxford via iStock Photography)