Photo: Seth Herald/Getty Images
WASHINGTON – State House of Representatives in Tennessee, a Republican majority ousted two Democratic lawmakers for having interrupted his activities last week to join a protest to call for greater gun control.
Congressmen Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, both African-American, were expelled after two separate votes. A third vote to oust Rep. Gloria Johnson fell short of support.
It is the third time in state history, since the 19th century, that members of the House of Representatives have been expelled. for allegedly violating the rules of the chamber.
The three politicians came together last week in a protest where hundreds of students and professors packed the floor to urge lawmakers to pass gun control laws following a school shooting that killed three children and three adults in Nashville, the state capital.
Democratic legislators decided to join the chants of the protesters who were in the gallery and, according to national media, they shouted “Power to the people” with a megaphone.
Therefore, the House Republicans introduced a resolution Monday for Johnson, Jones and Pearsonnoting that these three legislators “knowingly and intentionally caused disorder and dishonor” in court.
In a statement, the president of Joe Biden, reacted to the expulsion of the legislators and described the vote as “shocking, undemocratic and unprecedented”.
“Rather than debate the issue, these Republican lawmakers have chosen to punish, silence and expel the representatives elected by the people of Tennessee”, Biden stressed and repeated his request to Congress to approve legislation that restricts the sale of weapons.
This Thursday, the protesters returned to the doors of the Lower House of Tennessee to support the Democrats who are facing this possible expulsion.
Pearson thanked protesters for getting on a bus at 3 a.m. to “be a part of this process” and make sure their voices “are heard.” That power, he assured him, is key so that they can “continue raising the problems of the community.”
According to a report from the state attorney general’s office, the Tennessee Parliament has only twice expelled members of the House.
Democratic lawmaker Maxwell Frost, a staunch supporter of gun control and the first member of Generation Z to win a seat in federal Congress, called the vote an “extremist and improper response.” “We oppose these flagrant abuses of power”he wrote on Twitter.
During protests last week, Jones chanted “No action, no peace!” holding a banner reading “Protect Children Not Guns,” while Pearson spoke about gun violence through a megaphone.
Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton called it an “insurrection” and asserted that Democrats had committed “multiple violations” of General Assembly rules.
Pearson wrote a letter the same day to all legislators admitting he had breached decorum, but added that “it was impossible to listen to the chanting, pleading and screaming of thousands of peaceful children outside our chambers and not do or say anything.” .
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