A women's rights activist who laughed during Attorney General Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearings has been convicted of disorderly conduct and faces a possible sentence of up to one year behind bars and a potential $2,000 fine.
Desiree Fairooz, a member of the women's rights activist group Code Pink, reportedly laughed during the point in Sessions' confirmation when Sen. Richard Shelby claimed that Sessions' history of "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well documented."
"I felt it was my responsibility as a citizen to dissent at the confirmation hearing of Senator Jeff Sessions, a man who professes anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT policies, who has voted against several civil rights measures and who jokes about the white supremacist terrorist group the Ku Klux Klan," stated Fairooz, according to Code Pink.
Authorities arrested two other Code Pink protestors with Fairooz, both of whom were clad in Ku Klux Klan uniforms and hoods.
"None of us planned to get arrested," said Fairooz of the protest. "We just wanted to be a visible symbol of dissent."
The hearing at which the protesters were originally arrested took place on Jan. 10; the verdicts in the two-day trial came down on May 3.
Fairooz was convicted of counts of disorderly and disruptive conduct as well as parading and demonstrating on Capitol grounds. Her exact punishment is still pending the outcome of a sentencing hearing on June 21.
According to the 61-year-old activist, her laughter was not intended to be disruptive.
"I just couldn't hold it," said Fairooz about her laughter, according to The New York Times. "It was spontaneous. It was an immediate rejection of what I considered an outright lie or pure ignorance."
According to the prosecution's filing, Fairooz "let out a loud burst of laughter, followed by a second louder burst of laughter," after which police attempted unsuccessfully to escort the activist out of the room without disturbance.
Instead, Fairooz "grew loud and more disruptive, eventually halting the confirmation hearing," according to court papers.
Prosecutors claimed Fairooz's laugh warranted charges because the act was an attempt to "impede, disrupt, and disturb the orderly conduct" of Sessions' confirmation, according to the Independent.
Code Pink cited Sessions' opposition to the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act as two of the "ultra-conservative views" that led many to be "appalled" by his placement as attorney general.