Desiree Fairooz, 61, (center) a long-time member of activist group Code Pink, was arrested on January 10 during the hearing’s opening statements. Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, also members of Code Pink — who were dressed as members of the Ku Klux Klan as commentary on what Code Pink describes as Sessions’ racist past — were also arrested for causing a disruption.
Barry and Bianchi were escorted out of the Kennedy Caucus Room and arrested first. Less than 30 minutes after the two men were removed from the room, Fairooz was removed and arrested, according to a government motion.
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby testified during his opening statement that Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented,” and it was following this remark that Fairooz is alleged to have let out a laugh.
The government motion describes two bouts of laughter.
“In response to this statement, Defendant Fairooz, who had been sitting with Defendants Barry and Bianchi before their disruption and removal, let out aloud [sic] burst of laughter, followed by a second louder burst of laughter,” the document reads.
But 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.”
The case went to trial on Monday and closing arguments were made on Tuesday.
Fairooz was found guilty of disrupting Congress and parading/demonstrating on Wednesday afternoon, according to U.S. Attorney spokesman Bill Miller. Barry and Bianchi were each found guilty of parading/demonstrating and unlawful display but were found not guilty of disrupting Congress.
Miller said each charge is a misdemeanor with a statutory maximum of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.