TN GOP House Speaker threatens to expel Democrats over gun violence protest
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.
\u201cRep. @VoteGloriaJ has been kicked off of all committees for speaking up in the well \u2014 as has @brotherjones_ \n\nThey are currently sitting in Gov ops anyway\u201d— The Tennessee Holler (@The Tennessee Holler) 1680548073
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.
\u201c\u26a1\ufe0f\ud83d\udd25 HAPPENING NOW: Democrats @brotherjones_ @Justinjpearson @VoteGloriaJ have taken over the well and disrupted session.\u201d— The Tennessee Holler (@The Tennessee Holler) 1680194116
“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.”
Late Monday afternoon Rep. Jones noted their possible impending expulsion.
\u201cFrom @brotherjones_ on the ground in Nashville\u2014 the Tennessee legislator is planning to expel lawmakers who stood with gun control advocates today. \n\nThey have been stripped from committee assignments and their member ID\u2019s have been shut off. \n\nTHIS IS NOT DEMOCRACY.\u201d— Olivia Julianna \ud83d\uddf3 (@Olivia Julianna \ud83d\uddf3) 1680545973
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.
\u201cPearson, Johnson, and Jones argue it was a peaceful protest and they are pushing for gun reform. Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton says it was an insurrection. @FOXNashville\u201d— Kaitlin Miller (@Kaitlin Miller) 1680551060
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.”
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).
\u201cWATCH: \u201cThis is not a democracy. It\u2019s a very sad day for Tennessee.\u201d \n\n@RepRagan refuses to recognize @VoteGloriaJ & @brotherjones_ after Speaker @CSexton25 removed them from committees for their role in the peaceful protest last week. \n\nTroopers then remove constituents.\u201d— The Tennessee Holler (@The Tennessee Holler) 1680550735
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).
\u201cHappening Now: Students are filling the halls of the legislature. (and @WilliamLamberth is talking down to Rep. @brotherjones_)\u201d— The Tennessee Holler (@The Tennessee Holler) 1680542981
The protests continued Monday.
\u201cStudents from Hume-Fogg and other area schools staged an action against gun violence Monday morning, joining a March for Our Lives rally for the same purpose. Students and allies marched to the state Capitol, continuing their call for gun control.\u201d— Nashville Scene (@Nashville Scene) 1680537975
\u201cLarge gathering of students at the Capitol rallying for gun control. Video by @formvscontent for @nashvillescene. More students on their way per @kelsey_beyeler.\u201d— Elizabeth Orr Jones (@Elizabeth Orr Jones) 1680538423
Watch the videos above or at this link.
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