Back in January, Code Pink activist Desiree Fairooz attended the Senate confirmation hearing for then Sen. Jeff Sessions to head the DOJ. Fairooz laughed when Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) claimed that Sessions had a record of “treating Americans equally under the law.” For that, she was forcefully evicted from the hearing, arrested and charged with “disorderly or disruptive conduct.”
An examination of Sessions’ stance on civil rights is in direct contradiction to Shelby’s statement and was the precipitating factor for Fairooz’s reaction. Two other women, Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, were found guilty of “parading or demonstrating” because they were dressed in Klan robes for the hearing.
According to federal prosecutors, the laugh caused the proceedings to be disrupted, even though Shelby didn’t acknowledge the laugh or interrupt his comments. For her part, Fairooz described the laugh as a “reflex” upon hearing what she considered either ignorance or an out and out lie. She did cause a disruption when she was forcibly escorted from the proceedings for the crime of giggling. A jury found her guilty of the disorderly and disruptive charges, as well as for parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds, and she and the other women face up to 12 months in prison each.
Fairooz declined to take a plea deal that would have required her to plead guilty in exchange for a time served sentence.
In July, Chief Judge Robert E. Morin of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia threw out the guilty verdict against Fairooz, saying that he found it “disconcerting” that the government would proceed against a protestor for laughing and said that her laughter “would not be sufficient” to submit the case to a jury. Judge Morin ordered a new trial and set a court date of September 1. That date has been moved back to November 13.
The incident was mentioned in a previous article in Liberals Unite that dealt with a West Virginia reporter, Dan Heyman, being arrested for asking Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question about the Republican Health Care bill.
We have entered a new and disturbing era of our history where we have a president who vilifies the press at every turn and our Department of Justice wastes taxpayer money on going after a protestor who laughed for a few seconds during a hearing. How can there be respect for the law when a reporter is cuffed and hauled away for doing his job and a woman is manhandled out of a Senate hearing for the crime of laughing at a demonstrably false statement while a racist like Joe Arpaio is pardoned?
Your tax dollars at work.