Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Woman arrested after laughing at Trump’s Attorney General faces year in prison

desiree laugh sessions hearing jail.jpg

The woman arrested after laughing out loud during US attorney general Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing will be sentenced on Friday (14 June), facing up to a year in prison.

Department of Justice prosecutors are asking a judge to uphold a jury’s previous guilty verdict on two counts: one for “disorderly or disruptive conduct” with the intent to disrupt congressional proceedings, and one for “parading, demonstrating or picketing”.

During the January hearing, Desiree Fairooz – an activist with the women-initiated Code Pink group – laughed when Republican senator Richard Shelby said Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented”.

Sessions was a controversial choice by President Trump for the role, after being rejected as a federal judge in the Eighties – only the second person in 50 years to have his appointment denied by the Senate – over serious concerns about his views on race, including having been accused of using a racial slur and telling a black assistant to be careful how he spoke to “white folks”, which he denied. In the January hearing, he denied accusations of racism as “damnably false charges”.

Fairooz, along with two other activists who had protested by wearing Ku Klux Klan costumes, could be handed a jail sentence of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,000 (£1,555).

“I just couldn’t hold it,” Fairooz (pictured in main image second from right) later said of her laughter. “It was spontaneous. It was an immediate rejection of what I considered an outright lie or pure ignorance.

“None of us planned to get arrested. We just wanted to be a visible symbol of dissent.”

According to papers filed by the prosecutor, Fairooz “grew loud and more disruptive” as she was removed from the room by a police officer.


Read more: Chelsea Clinton just threw some A-grade shade at President Trump


An anonymous jury member reportedly told huffingtonpost.com that it was her actions following the laughter that they focused on. As she was removed by officer Katherine Coronado, Fairooz raised a protest sign and shouted: “Do not vote for Jeff Sessions!”

The government argued that these actions meant “that her laugh was an intentional, loud statement of disagreement” and given she had a sign ready to wave, the jury “then could reasonably view the resulting disruption as both an intentional and foreseeable result of the defendant’s course of conduct”.

Following the May verdict, she told jezebel.com: “I don’t regret having laughed. At the moment, I didn’t think anything was going to happen.

“I was charged with parading, but they paraded me. It was maddening. I was upset at that point and I thought this was unjust and that they were just making an example of me. And then I thought well, they’re going to arrest me, I might as well have my message up while they do so. And that’s when I held the sign.”

As The Guardian reported in May, the arrest was ironic given that Sessions has previously complained that “Nobody has a sense of humour anymore” following a widely condemned ‘joke’ about Hawaii he made when district judge Derrick Watson blocked Trump’s travel ban (“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”).

Fairooz responded to the verdict on the Code Pink website, saying she would “continue to speak out against injustice.”

Main image: Rex Features

Related

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 08.15.14.png

Chelsea Clinton just tweeted some A-grade shade at President Trump

rexfeatures_8907227d.jpg

You need to watch Donald Trump get “snubbed” by Poland’s First Lady

trump gender pay gap white house.jpg

The White House’s gender pay gap has tripled under President Trump

More

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Amanda Seyfried’s new abode to Jessica Chastain’s feline friend

by Nicola Colyer
17 Oct 2017

Jennifer Lawrence was forced into a naked line-up by a producer

In the name of weight-loss “inspiration”

by Amy Swales
17 Oct 2017

Abigail Breslin’s photo reveals how domestic abuse can stay with you

The actor has opened up about the realities of living with PTSD

17 Oct 2017

“Why Liar is proof that TV's depiction of rape is damaging to women”

The proliferation of rape in TV and film is a real problem for the representation of women

by Harriet Hall
17 Oct 2017

Nigella Lawson reveals why red is the ultimate foodie colour

As she tracks her gastronomic love affair with all things crimson

by Stylist
17 Oct 2017

Reese Witherspoon says she was sexually assaulted at 16 by a director

“Producers made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment”

by Amy Swales
17 Oct 2017

Courtney Love tried to warn us about Harvey Weinstein in 2005

This video shows her speaking out against Weinstein over a decade ago

by Susan Devaney
17 Oct 2017

Hillary Clinton praises NHS after receiving medical treatment in UK

Clinton spoke about the UK’s health service during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show

by Moya Crockett
17 Oct 2017

Maisie Williams’ response to Sophie Turner’s engagement is perfect

There’s a reason these two have been dubbed #BFFgoals, you know…

by Kayleigh Dray
17 Oct 2017

America Ferrera reveals she was sexually assaulted as a 9-year-old

‘I believed that I was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man’

by Kayleigh Dray
17 Oct 2017