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Republican lawmakers attempt to oust three Democrats in Tennessee for speaking out for gun control


The House of Representatives will vote to expel Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearce, a measure it has used only a handful of times since the Civil War.

By Kimberlee Kruesi and Jonathan Mattise -

The Associated Press

Thousands of people flocked to the Tennessee Capitol on Thursday to support the three Democratic lawmakers who face possible expulsion for their role in a pro-gun control rally.

The cheers and chants outside the state House of Representatives were so loud that they drowned out the proceedings inside, according to The Associated Press news agency.

The GOP-controlled House is scheduled to vote to

expel Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearce,

an extraordinary measure that has been used only a handful of times since the Civil War.

The trio of representatives linked hands as they entered the House Thursday morning, and Pearson raised a fist toward the crowd during the pledge of allegiance.

Pearson raises his fist as he enters the Tennessee House of Representatives on April 6, 2023. CHENEY ORR / REUTERS

The removal proceedings stem from a protest held last week, just days after six people, including three children, were fatally shot at The Covenant School in Nashville.

Johnson, Jones and Pearson

— now known as the “Tennessee Three”

— chanted from the floor to the proclamations of gun control supporters on the rostrum.

[A girl who loved the theater and a director who "knew everyone by name": the stories of the six killed in the shooting]

Outrage over possible ouster has put Tennessee back in the national spotlight, underscoring not only the ability of the Republican supermajority to silence opponents, but also their growing willingness to do so.

The move sends a controversial message just as lawmakers are debating how to respond to the devastating shooting, and it's worrying.

to some for the possibility of undermining democracy by overriding the will of voters by expelling elected representatives.

Many of the protesters traveled from Memphis and Knoxville, areas that Pearson and Johnson represent, and formed a line around the Capitol building with banners that read: "

School zones should not be war zones

," "Muskets should not be they were firing 950 rounds per minute” with a photo of George Washington, and

“You can silence a gun… but not the voice of the people”


Demonstrators protest against the ouster of Democratic lawmakers, in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 6, 2023. CHENEY ORR / REUTERS

As the House opened for session on Thursday, Democrat Vincent Dixie stood in front of his colleagues and urged them "not to get distracted."

He mentioned the funeral for Mike Hill, one of the victims of the Nashville school shooting, which took place earlier in the week.

[Fear among the trans community due to the focus of the Nashville shooting on gender identity: “We are terrified,” they lament]

“I want us to keep in mind the sacrifice he made to keep those children safe

,” Dixie said, “each of us has the power to make change.”

Before the vote on the expulsion, lawmakers were scheduled to debate more than 20 bills, including a school safety bill that would require public and private schools to submit building safety plans to the state.

The bill did not address gun control, prompting criticism from some Democratic members that lawmakers were only addressing a symptom and not the cause of the shootings.

Nashville school shooter planned his attack for months and fired 152 shots

April 4, 202300:22

Ejections in the Tennessee General Assembly are extremely rare and are considered an extraordinary action.

In 2019, lawmakers faced pressure to oust then-Rep. David Byrd, a Republican, after he faced allegations of sexual misconduct dating back to when he was a high school basketball coach three decades earlier.

Republicans refused to take action, saying he was reelected as the allegations surfaced.

Byrd retired last year.

Last year, the state Senate ousted Democrat Katrina Robinson after she was found guilty of using about $3,400 of a federal grant for wedding expenses instead of her nursing school.

Before that case, state lawmakers last ousted a House member in 2016, when they voted 70-2 to remove Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham after an investigation by the attorney general detailed allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with at least 22 women during his four years in office.

If Johnson, Jones or Pearson are ousted, county commissions in their districts could choose replacements to serve until a special election in several months.

All three would still be eligible to appear in them.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-04-06

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