Tennessee's House of Representatives is feeling the backlash after kicking out two Black members from its ranks. Protesters flooded the capitol on Thursday after House GOP members took the unprecedented step of expelling Democratic Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson (pictured above), two men who helped lead a gun-reform protest at the state Capitol a week ago. They were stripped of their committee assignments before the expulsion for "disorderly behavior."
Here's the thing, though: A third House representative, Gloria Johnson, who is white, was also involved in the protest. She was not expelled, with a one-vote margin saving her job when the House failed to get a two-thirds majority.
The protest—led by the House members who have since been dubbed the Tennessee Three—was in response to the March 27 school shooting at Covenant School in Nashville. Before his expulsion,
So, what does this say about politics in Tennessee? Even though Johnson was targeted for expulsion as well, it speaks ill of the House that the two Black members were kicked out and not the white woman who did the exact same thing. (According to Reuters, Johnson may have been spared because she didn't use a megaphone to lead chants at the protest, as Jones and Pearson reportedly did.)
The actions say the GOP is so committed to the status quo on gun laws—unwilling to change anything, even in the face of a nationally publicized tragedy—that it will scorch-earth its own colleagues across the aisle to tamp down any talk of gun-law reform.
If you listen to Barack Obama, you could take it as a "sign of weakness." The former president says silencing those who disagree with us, "won't lead to progress."
The current president called it "shocking" and "undemocratic," for the record.
It might also be a big political move for nothing: Jones is already likely to be reinstated by the Metro Council that appoints his seat on the House. He's already raising campaign funds, something he couldn't do while in office. And neither he nor Pearson went out silently, both ripping the GOP with powerful speeches before being expelled.
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