A District of Columbia judge convicted three Code Pink activists of impeding and disrupting a Senate hearing, in this case the confirmation hearing of now attorney general Jeff Sessions. The main activist being highlighted in the case is 61-year-old Virginia resident Desiree Fairooz, who says all she did was laugh loudly during the session. As for her compatriots, Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, they were dressed as Ku Klux Klan members with white hoods and robes during the hearing. Officially, they were charged with disorderly and disruptive conduct, as well as parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds. They could face up to a year in jail, $2,000 in fines or a combination of the two, depending on the result of a sentencing hearing scheduled for June 21st.
Fairooz gave her side of the story, saying that she laughed when a Republican senator said of Sessions that his “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” According to Fairooz, she laughed in response to what she interpreted as “an outright lie or pure ignorance.” She says that officers approached her and took her into custody immediately. Prosecutors say that Fairooz did more than that. According to court papers, Fairooz “grew loud and more disruptive, eventually halting the confirmation hearing” and shouted that Sessions’ “voting record is evil” as she was escorted out. At least one reporter, Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, recorded the incident and also said he only heard an initial laugh before the protester was removed.
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
When the jury foreperson was interviewed, they said that they focused more on Fairooz’s behavior during the removal than at the initial laugh. While some jurors felt her removal wasn’t warranted, “Ms. Fairooz’s comments as she was being escorted out caused the session to stop. It disrupted the session.”