Protester Arrested After Laughing At Jeff Sessions's Confirmation Hearing Faces Up to a Year in Prison

Desiree Fairooz, a Code Pink activist who was arrested after laughing during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing, has been charged and convicted of disrupting Congress and “parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds,” the New York Times reports. Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, two Code Pink members who appeared at the hearing dressed in KKK gear, were also reportedly convicted on “parading or demonstrating” charges. All face up to a year in prison for protesting the confirmation of a glaringly racist attorney general.


A longtime protester who once confronted then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with fake blood on her hands, Fairooz, 61, laughed after Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said that Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” Her initial laugh did not interrupt Shelby’s speech, according to the Huffington Post (HuffPo also notes that Shelby himself had run an ad in the ‘80s linking Sessions to the Ku Klux Klan). NBC reports that the government motion describes two “bursts” of laughter.”

Fairooz maintains that her laugh was a spontaneous, unplanned reaction to the proceedings. “It was an immediate rejection of what I considered an outright lie or pure ignorance,” she told the Times.

Fairooz “has been arrested while demonstrating in past,” Code Pink campaign director Ariel Gold told NBC News. “But [her laugh] was not demonstrating. Generally, when Code Pink demonstrates, it’s very hard to miss.”

A jury convicted Fairooz, Barry and Bianchi on Wednesday after a two-day trial. All three had pled not guilty.

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.


“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

Margaret Atwood.