Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Desiree Fairooz: Woman facing jail time for laughing at Attorney General Jeff Sessions says ‘I regret nothing’

Police arrested Desiree Fairooz for laughing during Jeff Sessions' public confirmation hearing 

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Tuesday 09 May 2017 10:33 BST
Protester carried out by security for laughing during Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing

The woman who is facing up to a year in jail for laughing at Attorney General Jeff Sessions has spoken out, stating: “I do not regret what I did”.

Desiree Fairooz, from Texas, was arrested after she let out a laugh during the confirmation hearing of the Alabama Senator in Washington DC.

A member of women’s rights activist organisation Code Pink, Fairooz had attended the hearing to protest the Senator’s confirmation. Police heard Fairooz laughing after Alabama Senator Richard Shelby said in the hearing that Mr Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well documented”.

She was convicted for disorderly and disruptive conduct and for parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds last week. She faces up to six months in jail for each offence, a fine or community service.

Ahead of her sentencing next month, Fairooz has spoken out about why she believes she should not have been arrested or facing jail time for her laughter and the state of free speech in America.

Writing on, she said: “Americans should be outraged that for two seconds of laughter during a public hearing, one could get jail time!”

“What does this say about the state of free speech in this country? We should all be concerned that our freedoms are in jeopardy.”

Fairooz, who describes herself as an “ordinary person” and “a retired children’s librarian who loves to hike, bike, travel,” has been an activist since George Bush’s administration. She has been on numerous marches and rallies and has been arrested more than once.

 Attorney General Jeff Sessions 

But Fairooz did not want to be arrested at the confirmation hearing, she said, instead wanting to be a part of the visible statement against Mr Sessions’ position.

“I felt it was my responsibility as a citizen to oppose his ascent to the most powerful law enforcement position in the country,” she wrote.

“This is a man who supports anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ policies, who has voted against several civil rights measures, and voted against the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, and whose nomination for Attorney General made the Ku Klux Klan ecstatic,” she claimed.

Former KKK Imperial Wizard David Duke expressed his delight at Mr Sessions’ nomination alongside that of Steve Bannon and Mike Flynn in a tweet last November, and called on the Alabama Senator to “stop the massive institutional race discrimination against whites”.

Mr Sessions has faced accusations of racism and of supporting the Ku Klux Klan in the past. He called the allegations “damnably false” at the hearing.

​Fairooz and other Code Pink protesters dressed as Lady Liberty for the hearing, while others dressed as members of the KKK, and chanted: “No Trump, no KKK, no racist USA”.

An African American demonstrator at one point shouted: “Stop this racist pig from getting into power,” before being escorted from the premises by police, the BBC reports.

Fairooz is attempting to have her conviction overturned. But despite facing a year in jail, she said she does not regret her actions.

“I do not regret dissenting at the confirmation of Sessions, and being part of a visible statement to draw attention to a dangerous man who does not deserve to be Attorney General. This was and is my responsibility as a citizen.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in