Update regarding “Former Librarian Faces Jail Time for Laugh at Sessions’s Confirmation”

This is an email from Julie Todaro, ALA President. (Jamie, mentioned below, is Jamie LaRue, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom)

Colleagues – I wanted to provide an update to leadership on ALA’s work on this. Below is a brief overview and links as well as content on Jamie’s lead and great work from him on this situation.

  • Desiree Fairooz did not reach out to ALA for support. Jamie saw the first NYT story and began to research the issue.
  • ALA media found out about the same time when they received a few communications from members who had worked with her. Her colleagues identified her as a librarian, and asked ALA if/how they might help. Her story is here.
  • Jamie reached out to Ms. Fairooz and alerted American Libraries as to what he/ALA OIF and FTRF was doing.
  • AL told ALA media/us they would be gathering information for a story.
  • I had asked ALA/OIF and media to find out hearing rules and Jamie confirmed – as one might imagine – Congressional hearings can set rules of behavior and – apparently set additional rules at their discretion.
  • It’s not clear – based on the variety of reports – what all of the charges are/what they mean and which behaviors are the real issues (links are to stories with charges) and one opinion is while the laughter probably wasn’t a crime, her conduct as she was led from the room was determined to be.
  • Jamie is the ALA lead on this and will work with FTRF board.

From Jamie/with a little content from Julie from other emails with Jamie, et al
“Desiree Fairooz is a former children’s librarian who was in the news recently for being arrested following a protest at Jeff Session’s confirmation hearing. For a recording of her laughter, and a video of her being escorted from the building, see here. You can find the American Libraries story here, and the story in her own words here. After being found guilty of “disorderly and disruptive conduct” and “parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds,” she is facing a sentence of a year in jail and $2,000, or both.
At present, Ms. Fairooz has both a court appointed attorney, and the offer of some free legal assistance from a couple of area (Washington, DC) lawyers, one of whom with significant First Amendment experience. Her sentencing is currently scheduled for June 21.”
“…………I managed to speak with Ms. Fairooz today and inquire directly. She was full of warm praise for ALA, and said that right now, she thought she was ok. After her sentencing, that might change. She also suggested the possibility of launching some kind of letter-writing campaign. Finally, I directed her to the Merritt Fund, which might be able to assist her with some financial assistance should that prove necessary.
She was touched and pleased to hear of so much library support for her……………”
Jamie will keep us posted.