Laughing, a crime in Donald Trump’s USA?


This 14 July 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

The protester who was arrested for laughing during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing had her case thrown out by a judge. Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, and Amberia Allen, the hosts of The Young Turks, tell you how she’s not out of the woods yet.

“WASHINGTON ― A D.C. judge has tossed out a jury’s conviction of a protester who laughed during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearing, finding on Friday that the government had improperly argued during the trial that her laughter was enough to merit a guilty verdict. The judge ordered a new trial in the case, setting a court date for Sept. 1.

Desiree Fairooz, 61, who was associated with the group Code Pink, had been convicted of disorderly and disruptive conduct and demonstrating inside the Capitol. Fairooz was taken into custody during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January after she laughed when Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) claimed Sessions had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.” (The Senate rejected Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship in the 1980s over concerns about his views on race.)

But Chief Judge Robert E. Morin of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia tossed out the guilty verdict on Friday because the government had argued that the laugh alone was enough to warrant the verdict. Morin said it was “disconcerting” that the government made the case in closing arguments that the laughter in and of itself was sufficient.”

Read more here.

By Andrea Germanos in the USA:

“Vindictive”: CODEPINK Activist Who Laughed During Jeff Sessions’ Hearing to Face New Trial

“I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this,” said Desiree Fairooz

Saturday, September 02, 2017

CODEPINK activist Desiree Fairooz, who was arrested after laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ confirmation hearing, will face a second trial this fall after she rejected a plea deal on Friday.

“I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this. Vindictive!” she wrote on Twitter, while CODEPINK called it “ridiculous.”

As Common Dreams reported, she was convicted in May of disorderly and disruptive conduct during the hearing. While Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) argued that Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented,” Fairooz, who was in the hearing room, laughed. She held up a sign that read “Support Civil Rights; Stop Sessions” as she was placed under arrest and taken out of the room.

You can hear her laughter in the [10 January 2017] video below, around the 1:20 mark:

Fairooz described the noise she made as “spontaneous. It was an immediate rejection of what I considered an outright lie or pure ignorance.” Civil liberties advocates have also strongly rejected such an characterization of Sessions’ record.

Her conviction was thrown out in July and a hearing set for Sept. 1. At the hearing, CNN reports: “According to court records, Fairooz rejected a deal offered by prosecutors that would have required her to plead guilty in exchange for a recommended sentence of time served.”

HuffPo explains:

This time around, the government will have to be more careful if it wants the jury verdict to stand. Because they cannot argue that laughter was enough to sustain a conviction, government lawyers essentially have to concede to the jury that Officer Katherine Coronado, the rookie cop who approached Fairooz, made a mistake. They’ll have to argue that, even if the officer was wrong to arrest Fairooz, she didn’t have the right to loudly object to her treatment, or at least didn’t have the right to make political statements that briefly interrupted Senate proceedings.

In a May interview with Jezebel, Fairooz said, “I’m just an average citizen. I’m no spokesperson. I’m no paid protester. I am a retired children’s librarian, former teacher who is speaking for people like my former students and their families or those who are not able to do this. That if you do not stand up to the injustices that are being imposed on us—I mean, I see our democracy crumbling every day.”

“It was bad under Bush. It was definitely imperfect under Obama. 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. So if anything, I hope others feel inspired to do likewise,” she said.

From Black Agenda Radio in the USA, 29 August 2017:

In seeking the identities of 1.3 million visitors to a web site for protests against Donald Trump’s inauguration, last January, Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department is “trying to silence and chill and intimidate people from speaking out,” said Chip Gibbons, of Defending Rights and Dissent. Two hundred people face prison terms for the inaugural protests.

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