Above: Members of CODE PINK, Lenny Bianchi (l) and Tighe Barry (r), dressed up as KKK members jumped out of their seats at Sen. Jeff Sessions’ Attorney General confirmation hearing. By ANDREW HARNIK/AP
A total of 26 protesters were arrested today in opposition to Jeff Sessions, including members of Refuse Fascism, the NAACP, Democracy Spring, Code Pink, and Howard University, according to Refuse Fascism. The group is calling for millions to pour into the streets of DC to prevent Trump and Pence from assuming power.
The protests began even before confirmation hearings officially began. Two CODE PINK members dressed in KKK costumes stood up before the hearing was gaveled to express their support for Sessions. They praised “Jefferson Beauregard” and as they were taken from the room they yelled mockingly “you can’t arrest me, I am white!” and “white people own this government.” In the hall as they were being detained they explained that Sessions history on racism, immigration, LGBTQ rights and sexism made him inappropriate to serve as attorney general.
— GlobalCitizensCircle (@citizens_circle) January 10, 2017
There were a series of protests against Sessions. A common chant of the protesters was “No Trump! no KKK! No fascist USA!”
— NAACP (@NAACP) January 10, 2017
Protesters focused on Sessions history of racism and bigotry against immigrants. As Al Jazeera reported: “He was rejected for a federal judgeship by the Senate Judiciary Committee 30 years ago amid accusations of racism…During a 1994 campaign for Alabama attorney general, Sessions came out in support of chain gangs – forced labour of prisoners – and life sentences for children as young as 14 years old…Sessions has also accused the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples (NAACP) civil rights group and the American Civil Liberties Union of being ‘un-American.’” Sessions was forced to disavow the Klan saying he abhors the Klan and all it represents.
With his past history of racist comments people are concerned that he will not follow through on Department of Justice investigations of police brutality and killings of African Americans.
Others protested his immigration record which is among the most aggressive in the senate, his support for deportations and his views on African Americans. Protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter” and urged senators “Do your job.”
A group of marijuana law reform advocates in the back of the room must not have liked what they heard when Sessions discussed his views on federal marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized, decriminalized or put in place medical marijuana laws. Sessions said his job was to enforce federal law: “One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act. If that’s something that’s not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule. It is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.” In other words he says it is his job to enforce federal law that would make possession and sale illegal even in states that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana. If he follows through on this, it would mean the end of a major new market, that may be bigger than the .com boom.
Under questioning from Democratic senators Sessions was forced to admit that water boarding was illegal and was against the law for any federal official. He was also admitted that grabbing a woman by her genitals was sexual assault and an elected official, if the person was the president, should be investigated and prosecuted for such acts.