Tennessee legislature expels two African American lawmakers

Rep. Justin Pearson, Rep. Justin Jones, and Rep. Gloria Johnson People hold their hands up as they exit the House Chamber doors at the Tennessee State Capitol Building, in Nashville, Tennessee, US. April 3, 2023. — Reuters

In an emotionally charged session shown on CNN, Republicans voted to expel two African American Democrat legislators from the House of Representatives in Tennessee, weeks after they protested gun reform laws, CNN reported Thursday.

The Republican-dominated house, however, could not throw out the third representative as in the seven hours session, votes fell short in the turn of Representative Gloria Johnson — white.

The vote seeking expulsion from the House requires a two-thirds majority of the total members.

The vote conducted on the violation of the rules for Jones split along party lines 72-25 whereas, in Pearson’s case it was 69-26.

Johnson got votes 65-30.

Protesters who were demanding reform in gun violence yet again gathered outside the Capitol on Thursday over the inaction of legislators in the matter weeks after a deadly shooting in Nashville that claimed six lives, including three nine-year-old children.

While in House, Jones said: “We called for you all to ban assault weapons and you respond with an assault on democracy.”

After securing enough votes to be in the House, Jones said “It might have to do with the colour of our skin.”

Last Thursday, a protest was led by these three Democrat legislators, CNN reported citing WSMV.

“Each lawmaker was removed from their committee assignments following last week’s demonstrations.”

Legislators said: Each of the resolutions did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonour to the House of Representatives,” adding that “they began shouting without recognition and “proceeded to disrupt the proceedings of the House Representatives for just under an hour Thursday morning.”

The resolutions which led to the removal of the two lawmakers were put forth under Article II, Section 12 of the Tennessee Constitution, stating, in part, “the House can set its own rules and punish its members for disorderly behaviour, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”

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