On Tuesday, the story of a woman on trial for laughing at Jeff Sessions during his Senate confirmation hearing seemed like, well, a joke. Snopes was even forced to publish a story saying it was all too true. A jury has now convicted Code Pink activist Desiree Fairooz — yes, for laughing (i.e., disrupting Congress and parading/demonstrating) — and she faces up to a year behind bars. The giggles were apparently prompted when Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby praised Sessions for “treating all Americans equally under the law” in a “well-documented” record.
Two other Code Pink activists, who were dressed in KKK-esque costumes, were also convicted (not for disrupting Congress but for unlawful display and parading/demonstrating). The punishment of Fairooz (seen on the right in the above photo and in this video clip) was regarded as the most disruptive of the bunch, despite witness statements that say her laugh was not even as loud as a cough would have been, and one certainly cannot prosecute someone for coughing, right? Well, never say never:
Ariel Gold, campaign director for Code Pink who was sitting near Fairooz in the Kennedy Caucus Room, told NBC News that the noise was less than a cough.
“I would describe it as a reflex. It was such an appalling statement for Senator Shelby to make … this is such an absurdity that Mr. Sessions has a record of treating Americans equally, that she just reflexively let out a noise,” Gold said. “I was sitting about two people away, and I would say the noise was quieter than a cough.”
Those who protested Sessions’ hearing were largely motivated by his record on civil rights issues, which prompted Senator Cory Booker to make history by testifying against a fellow Senator for his “failure to defend” minorities. Now that Sessions is attorney general, he’s erased decades of police reform and halted independent oversight of federal forensic evidence. Most recently, his Department of Justice declined to charge the officers involving Alton Sterling’s death in Baton Rouge — even though multiple videos showed him being shot at point blank range while not holding a weapon.