TN GOP House Speaker threatens to expel Democrats over gun violence protest

TN GOP House Speaker threatens to expel Democrats over gun violence protest
Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Cameron Sexton at a fundraiser for Representative Mary Littleton in Dickson, TN on 24 October 2019

The Republican Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Cameron Sexton, on Monday stripped two Democratic state lawmakers from all their committees and subcommittees in retribution for their support of massive protests by thousands of Tennessee citizens at the state Capitol last week, after the Nashville elementary school mass shooting. He may move to expel both, and a third Democrat, from the General Assembly entirely, as early as Monday evening.

Claiming that by protesting in the well of the House, Democratic Reps. Gloria Johnson and Justin Jones “took away the voices of the protestors, the focus on the six victims who lost their lives, and the families who lost their loved ones,” Speaker Sexton stripped the two Democrats of their committees, according to The Tennessee Holler which posted the letters documenting the Speaker’s action.

WPLN on Sunday reported Speaker Sexton was angered that Johnson, Jones, and a third Democrat, Rep. Justin Pearson, had “stood up and chanted with protestors in the gallery,” as video shows.

“Sexton warned that there will likely be consequences for the trio,” WPLN adds. Sexton said, “It could be removal of committees; it could be censorship; it could be expulsion from the General Assembly. Anywhere in between.”

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Late Monday afternoon Rep. Jones noted their possible impending expulsion.

Speaker Sexton had likened Thursday’s protests to the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and reportedly said the Tennesseans protesting gun violence last week were “maybe even worse” than the January 6 insurrectionists.

Tennessee Lookout reported “over a thousand protesters” had “flooded” the Tennessee state Capitol building Thursday in the wake of the Covenant School shooting.

“Protesters then flooded the House and Senate public viewing areas. In the Senate, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, cleared the public area after protesters refused to stop chanting ‘Children are dead, and you don’t care,'” Tennessee Lookout added. “The House was more chaotic. Jones, joined by Reps. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, and Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, took over the podium with a megaphone during a recess.”

“Two of the members, Reps. (Justin) Jones and (Gloria) Johnson, have been very vocal about Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., about what that was,” Speaker Sexton said last week. “What they did [Thursday] was at least equivalent, maybe worse, depending on how you look at it, of doing an insurrection in the capitol.”

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On Monday, after being stripped of their committee assignments, both Reps. Johnson and Jones attended a committee hearing and the chair refused to recognize them. When asked if he could cite the ruling that allowed him to not recognize them, he said he could not.

In the committee room gallery, several who identified themselves as Rep. Johnson’s constituents vocally objected, and were removed by state troopers, according to The Tennessee Holler (video below).

Earlier on Monday, The Tennessee Holler reported that students were “filling the halls of the legislature,” and GOP state Rep. William Lamberth chastised Rep. Pearson (who was off-camera).

The protests continued Monday.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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