The woman who was forcibly removed for laughing during Jeff Sessions's Senate confirmation hearing for attorney general faces up to one year in prison and a $2,000 fine for unlawful parading and disorderly conduct after a jury found her guilty, but she's not giving up.
A longtime activist and mom from Arlington, Texas, Desiree Fairooz, 61, amped up her resistance with the women-led activist group Code Pink, formed in 2003 to oppose George W. Bush's Iraq war, and has since protested with the group on countless occasions. While she's been arrested up to eight times for protesting previously (usually with the knowledge that her protest was actionable), the arrest at the Sessions hearing January 10 came as a complete shock to her, since the crime was laughing out loud when Alabama's Sen. Richard Shelby said Sessions would defend all Americans.
"We are seeing, around the country, measures being taken by local and state politicians, and some of our representatives -- I think only Republicans -- are initiating legislation to limit protest. That is a concern, and it doesn't mean that I'm going to stop speaking out against injustice, but it is worrisome," Fairooz told Jezebel.
Still, Fairooz said she will continue to fight: "We are passionate about being the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves and we're not going to stop doing that just because our government tries to silence us."
Detailing the arrest during the Sessions hearing for Jezebel, Fairooz said she was with fellow activists Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, who were also arrested and convicted. They had already been removed from the room by the time a rookie police officer attempted to force Fairooz from the premises, reports HuffPost. As officers hauled her out of the room she shouted, "Do not vote for Jeff Sessions," which the foreperson of the jury that found her guilty said was the reason she was arrested. Although, she would not have been forcibly removed from the room if she hadn't been caught laughing.
She did not get convicted for laughing. It was her actions as she was being asked to leave," the foreperson said, according to HuffPost.
Fairooz encapsulated the moments between when she laughed and when she was removed from the room in her Jezebel interview:
"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. I was angry."
Fairooz alleges that the judge in the case intimated to her attorney and to the attorneys for Barry and Bianchi that there is room for the judgment to be vacated.
"We feel that there is a possibility that our attorneys will fight this," she told Jezebel. "It's not a technical appeal but we'll fight this by making motions that errors were made in the trial." Otherwise, Fairooz said she and her fellow activists are hoping for leniency in sentencing. At any rate, she does not intend to give in to the Trump administration and hopes others will follow suit.
"And now every day, I ask myself, is it fascism now? And so if we don't stand up while we still have some modicum of democracy, it'll be too late," Fairooz said. "So if anything, I hope others feel inspired to do likewise."