Following protest over Nashville school shooting
Recently, three Tennessee lawmakers Reps. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, Justin Jones of Nashville and Justin Pearson of Memphis led a protest on the House floor.
The reported goal of the protest, which gathered more than 1,000 peaceful protestors, was to urge the Tennessee Legislature to pass more common sense gun control in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School, which took the lives of three 9-year-old children and three staff members.
Jones and Pearson were officially expelled from the Tennessee Legislature on April 6. Johnson, who is White, was not expelled. Jones was reinstated on Monday. The Tennessee House Democratic Caucus unanimously opposed the expulsions which drew swift condemnation from many Democrat office holders nationwide.
“These three Democratic lawmakers were marching against gun violence, which is a public health crisis that continues to kill our babies, our family, and our community,” said Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (65th District), chair of the California Democratic Caucus. “These lawmakers were doing their job by representing the people who elected them and fighting to keep their constituents alive.
“There is no reason these representatives should have been stripped of their committees, let alone face expulsion from the body. This attempt to expel these lawmakers is motivated by racism and sexism. This is not the early 1900s when women and people of color couldn’t exercise rights that should have been inalienable in the first place. We as Americans have a first amendment right to protest, petition the government to redress grievances, and freely express speech.
“This attempt to expel them is bullsh*t and nothing but thinly veiled racism and sexism. Nothing about what these three legislators did was unethical or illegal.
Gipson continued: “Furthermore, the voices of the Black community, women, and others that have been oppressed have been silenced for far too long, but we will not be silenced anymore. We need to let the Republicans of the Tennessee House know that what they are doing is wrong and that we notice.
“We must gather support from our activist groups, our gun reform groups, and other allies, including other lawmakers and communities, to stand in solidarity with these three lawmakers and make our voices heard.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also issued a statement regarding the actions of the Tennessee Legislature:
“Tennessee Republicans’ vindictive over-reaction to a peaceful protest in support of gun control following the Nashville school massacre carries the stench of White supremacy. We condemn this unjustified and racially-charged vote, and we expect it to only embolden activists and voters to become more involved in the political process.
“The Tennessee House Democratic Caucus unanimously opposed these baseless resolutions for expulsion and will continue to oppose them if they should be heard on the floor.”