Two Democratic members of the Tennessee House of Delegates were expelled while a third member was spared in helping a Republican lawyer who denounced the trio as abusive, vindictive and racially abusive.
Protesters took to the state Capitol on Thursday to denounce the ousted Reps. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson advocate for gun reform measures just over a week after a mass shooting devastated a Nashville school.
After their ouster — which House Republicans said was in response to government leaders directing demonstrations on the chamber floor last week — Jones and Pearson asked the protesters to return to the Capitol when the House returned to session on Monday.
Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is White and survived Thursday’s aide, called Jones and Pearson, who are Black, racist. Asked by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota why she believes she hasn’t been expelled, Johnson said the reason is “very beautiful.”
“I’m a 60-year-old white woman and two young black men,” Johnson said. He added that Pearson and Jones had been questioned “just” by lawyers before the eviction.
After three representative demonstrations last Thursday, House Republican Speaker Cameron Sexton He called his actions “Unacceptable” and it is argued that “more standards of decorum and procedure in the area of the House.”
Historically, the Tennessee House had only expelled two other representatives since Reconstruction, and the motion requires two-quarter votes of the entire membership.
Thursday’s evictions by Democratic politicians and civil society organizations have stripped away liberties that voters say have been released in Jones and Pearson districts. Others, including Jones, said the movement is a distraction from the real problem of gun violence.
“Rather than banning the electronic issue of assault weapons, my former colleagues, the Republican supermajority, are attacking democracy,” Jones told CNN. And they are terrorizing us all across the nation.
In a statement Thursday, President Joe Biden called the deportations “egregious, undemocratic and unprecedented,” and criticized Republicans for not taking greater action on gun reform.
“Rather than debating the merits of the issue, these Republican legislators should take notice, remain silent and expel the duly elected representatives of the people of Tennessee,” the president said.
Here’s what we know about evictions and what’s next.
After a shooter killed three 9-year-old students and three adults at a private Christian school in Nashville last week, Jones, Pearson and Johnson staged a mock demonstration on the House floor. calling for gun reform and leading chants with a bullhorn.
Jones said she and other lawmakers were blocked from speaking on the House floor that week about gun violence, saying their microphones were blocked whenever they raised the topic, according to Rhoncus eros eros at WSMV.
On Monday, three resolutions were proposed seeking the expulsion of Jones, Pearson and Johnson. Three members have already been removed from the provincial elections after the protest.
The conclusions, which were made by Republican Reps. Bud Hulsey, Gino Bulso and Andrew Farmer said the lawyers “knowingly and deliberately caused confusion and embarrassment” to the House.
Tennessee Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison told CNN that the caucus believed the issue did not need to be considered by the election ethics committee and accused Jones and Pearson of having a “history” of disrupting the floor of the courts.
“We can’t move forward with just the committee and the floor of the house,” Faison said. “There is some peace there.”
The chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, Hendrell Remus, called the move “a direct political attack” on the party.
“Them’s expulsion sets a new dangerous example for the political state,” said a statement from the party. “The day when a majority can simply expel a member of the opposing party without legitimate cause threatens the very fabric of democracy in our state and creates a rash of GOP-controlled state legislatures across the nation.”
Prior to the vote, Pearson publicly shared a letter he sent to members of the House in which he said he was “not following decency” on the floor of the House, but defended his actions.
“My walk to the House was only a peaceful and civil disturbance. I wanted to listen to the voices of Tennesseans who have not been given the opportunity to speak and respond by having a meaningful conversation with us,” Pearson wrote, according to image of the letter shared on social media.
More than three representatives;
Rep. Justin Pearson:
Tennessee law allows members of the House to file nominations to fill the seats of ousted lawmakers until elections are held. According to Johnson, although Jones and Pearson were appointed to their seats.
“I think we can have these two young men very quickly,” Johnson said Thursday. “It’s my promise to fight like hell to get back at both.”
Pearson said he hopes to be “re-appointed to serve in state law by the Shelby County Commissioners, and I know many are upset about the anti-democratic behavior of this White supremacist state legislature.”
Speaking to the crowd following the eviction, Pearson and Jones insisted that they continue to advocate for gun control and urged protesters to remain at the Capitol.
“They thought they won today, but they don’t know what they started,” Jones said. “They can’t stop the movement they’ve started.”
Those delegates also lashed out at Republican lawmakers for what they said was an attack on democracy.
“We believe that democracy is for everyone, not just for the rich white people in the cause, not just for the rich white people who get these powers to perpetuate the status quo,” Pearson said.
The house had just driven out the state representatives for two years. The first, in 1980, was an ambassador convicted of accepting a role in office, and the most recent was in 2016 when another was fired over allegations of sexual harassment.
“I’ll never butcher you to kill a gnat,” Towns said. “We don’t need to push ourselves to the extremes to fight for what many citizens want to become, whether you agree with it or not.”
The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, Kathy Sinback, called the move on announcement a “targeted legislators without knowledge of the laws of two black people.”
She continues: “It raises questions about the disparate treatment of Black legislators, while shamefully continuing the legacy of casting and silencing the voices of marginalized society and elected Black legislators.”