Tennessee House expels two Black representatives for protesting


Andrew Nelles | The Tennessean via AP

Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, left, Justin Jones, center, and Justin Pearson arrive at Fisk University.

Tennessee House Republicans expelled two young Black Democrats, Reps. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) and Justin Pearson (D-Memphis), and attempted to expel a white Democrat after they protested in favor of gun control through the House chamber. 

This follows the mass school shooting that took place in Nashville’s the Covent School on March 27, killing three students and three adults. 

According to NPR, most expulsions are due to criminal conduct or abusive behavior, which makes the recent ones in Tennessee stand out, as they were expelled for breaching the rules of decorum in the House.

Jones and Pearson used a bullhorn during the protest and were joined by Rep. Gloria Johnson. Jones, Pearson and Johnson were accused of being disruptive and bringing “disorder and dishonor” to Tennessee’s House of Representative, according to The New York Times.

On Thursday, April 6, protesters poured into the House to protest not only gun control, but also the expulsion of the two young Representatives. 

There is debate that the expulsions had to do with the race of the Representatives, since Johnson, who is white, escaped expulsion while her Black colleagues were expelled only months into their two-year terms. 

“I am a 60-year-old white woman, and they are two young Black men,” Johnson told CNN.

According to Johnson, Jones and Pearson were questioned by lawmakers in a demeaning manner before the expulsion.

“I think what happened was a travesty of democracy because they expelled the two youngest Black lawmakers — which is no coincidence — from the Tennessee state legislature because we are outspoken, because we fight for our district,” Jones said on “CNN this morning.”

According to The Washington Post, when a seat in the House of Representatives is opened, local officials choose a replacement, who can be the same lawmakers that were expelled. 

The Nashville City Council is hosting a meeting on Monday to send Jones back to the Tennessee House.