Tennessee Expel Two Democrats Over Mass Shooting Protest
Tennessee Expel Two Democrats Over Mass Shooting Protest

Tennessee Expel Two Democrats Over Mass Shooting Protest!

Following a horrific school shooting in Nashville last week, two Democratic lawmakers joined a protest on the House floor. On Thursday, Republican lawmakers in Tennessee moved to expel them.

Democratic Representatives Justin Jones, Gloria Johnson, and Justin Pearson led a chant of “power to the people” from the House floor on March 30, as demonstrators gathered at the State Capitol.

One of the youngest lawmakers, Jones, 27, was expelled from the legislature on Thursday by a vote of 72 to 25. Johnson’s expulsion was down by one vote, 65 to 30. But Pearson, 28, was also dismissed by a vote of 69 to 26. The GOP supermajority accused the legislators of flouting the chamber’s norms regarding behavior and etiquette.

“A state in which the Ku Klux Klan was founded is now attempting another power grab by silencing the two youngest Black representatives,” Jones said on the House floor before the vote.

Johnson questioned why she believed she had been protected when her two Black coworkers had not.

“It might have to do with the color of our skin,” Johnson said.

“This is not about expelling us as individuals. This is your attempt to expel the voices of the people from the people’s house. It will not be successful,” Jones said before the vote. “Your overreaction, your flexing of false power has awakened a generation of people who will let you know that your time is up.”

Tennessee Expel Two Democrats Over Mass Shooting Protest

It is highly uncommon for legislators to be forcibly removed from a state legislative body in the United States. Eight lawmakers had previously been ejected from the Tennessee House, six of them Confederate bigots who refused to recognize the citizenship of Black people who had once been slaves in the 19th century, one for bribery in the 20th century, and one for sexual misbehavior in the 21st century.

“Today’s expulsion of lawmakers who engaged in peaceful protest is shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent,” President Biden said in a statement Thursday night. “Rather than debating the merits of the issue, these Republican lawmakers have chosen to punish, silence, and expel duly elected representatives of the people of Tennessee.”

Before the voting, each politician up for expulsion had a chance to speak.

“The world is watching Tennessee,” Jones said. “What is happening here today is a farce of democracy. What’s happening here today is a situation in which the jury has already publicly announced the verdict.”

Jones slammed the house for not exiling other members who had admitted to crimes or behaved inappropriately in their positions on behalf of young people in his area who are “terrified” by mass shootings.

A shooting at the private Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, left three students and three teachers dead. Within minutes of the attack being reported, police shot and killed the multiple-weapon-carrying attacker.

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“What did the Republican legislators do? They’re trying to expel these three Democratic legislators who joined in the protest,” Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday.

Before the vote to eject the lawmakers, there were several votes. The “Tennessee Three” and one other Democrat voted against HB322, which would have hardened schools with closed doors and drills.

The bill was approved from 95 to 4. With 97 yes votes and no negative votes, House Bill 1051, which would have increased mental health coverage throughout the state, was approved.

The House also approved bills to strengthen school security. A vote was taken on an amendment to implement a mobile panic alert system that would let first responders communicate in real time.

The bills were contested by Pearson, who argued that they did not go far enough.

“Are you saying children will go to school and these resource officers will have AR-15s on them?” asked Pearson. “This is a part of what I think is a symptomatic problem of not addressing root causes. The root cause that each of us have to address is this gun violence epidemic due to the proliferation of guns.” 

Another Democrat, Bo Mitchell, said the United States is an exception regarding school shootings and “mass killings,” comparing the measures to using “painkillers to cure cancer.” He could hear cheers coming from outside the chamber.

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