Black Tennessee lawmakers expelled

A 3rd lawmaker, a White female, was not expelled
Black Tennessee lawmakers expelled
Tennessee lawmakers Justin Jones and Justin Pearson being escorted out of the state capital for involvement in gun control protests. (Video screenshot via: Twitter – @AMarch4OurLives)

Two young Black lawmakers from Tennessee have been expelled. State representatives Justin Jones, Gloria Johnson and Justin Pearson were all up for “expulsion,” from the state House of Representatives. House members decided Jones and Pearson, the two youngest Black representatives in office, would be removed, while Johnson, a White woman, would not be removed from office. The two lawmakers were removed for their participation in gun control protests following the March 27 Covenant School shooting in Nashville.

“[This is] another example of a move to take the country back to a ‘states rights’ and ‘Jim Crow’ era that has a goal to destroy our representative democracy and replace it with an autocratic government structure that is ruled by White nationalists,” Melanie L. Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, said in a statement.

As the announcement to expel the lawmakers was made, citizens began chanting “Shame on you!”

“For years, one of your colleagues, an admitted child molester, sat in this chamber – no expulsion,” Jones told his fellow lawmakers before the vote was made.

Pearson spoke to the media in a viral clip after the decision was made.

“What’s going through my mind right now is that we need to fight for democracy in the state of Tennessee, and we need people not only just to vote, but people to show up and show out so we can end the gun violence epidemic that’s happening in our state,” Pearson said. “This is wrong, this is unjust and this isn’t the way it has to be. There is a better way for us to live and we don’t have to live this way, but the Republican party of the state of Tennessee wants to keep things the same. If you want to fight to change it, if you want to help make this place a better place, you have to use your voice, you have to use your power, and yes, sometimes, you’ve got to get expelled.”

Pearson was took office in January, 2023 at 28, and Jones took office in 2022 at 27.

Protesters returned to the steps of the state capitol a day after the controversial decision was made. The expelled representatives also showed up at a Nashville church for a rally with an appearance from Vice President Kamala Harris on April 7.

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