Tennessee House Votes to Expel 2 of 3 Democratic Lawmakers Over Gun Control Protest Participation

Democratic Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled over a gun control protest that took place following the deadly elementary school shooting in Nashville.

Republican lawmakers in Tennessee moved to expel two Democratic legislators on Thursday after they participated in a protest following the horrific school shooting in Nashville last week.

Democratic Representatives Justin Jones, Gloria Johnson and Justin Pearson led a chant from the House floor to advocate for gun reform on March 30, as demonstrators gathered at the State Capitol, according to reports.

Jones, 27, one of the youngest lawmakers, was first expelled by a vote of 72 to 25 in the assembly and Pearson, 28, was also dismissed by a vote of 69 to 26, according to CBS News

The vote to dismiss Johnson failed.

The votes drew accusations of racism, the Associated Press reported, as both Jones and Pearson are Black, and Johnson is white. The Republican leadership denied that race was a factor in the vote, the news outlet said.

"A state in which the Ku Klux Klan was founded is now attempting another power grab by silencing the two youngest Black representatives," Jones said on the House floor before the vote, CBS News wrote.

The representatives were accused of violating the House's rules for behavior and decorum by the GOP supermajority. 

Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling to Nashville on Friday to meet with the two expelled lawmakers, according to USA Today.

“What happened yesterday was a very sad day for democracy,” Jones told CNN’s Don Lemon on CNN This Morning. “The nation was able to see we don’t have democracy in Tennessee.”

The expulsion of a lawmaker from a chamber in the United States is extremely rare, according to reports. The action is typically reserved as a punishment for legislators who have been accused of serious infractions or sexual misconduct.

“Today’s expulsion of lawmakers who engaged in peaceful protest is shocking, undemocratic and without precedent,” President Joe Biden said in a statement on Thursday. “Rather than debating the merits of the issue, these Republican lawmakers have chosen to punish, silence and expel duly-elected representatives of the people of Tennessee.”

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