Tennessee House expels two Democratic representatives after gun control protests

Justin Pearson from Memphis and Justin Jones from Nashville got into several altercations at a rally at the state Capitol.

Tennessee lawmakers on Thursday expelled two members of the state House of Representatives for their aggressive behavior at a gun control protest at the Capitol last week.

The ousted representatives are Democrats. Rep. Justin Pearson of Memphis was voted out on a 69-26 vote, and Rep. Justin Jones of Nashville was voted out on a 72-25 vote. A third Democratic representative, Gloria Johnson, was saved by a single vote (65-30). Lawmakers needed 66 votes for expulsion.

The three Democratic representatives acted out aggressively a few days ago at protests at the House in favor of gun control after the shooting at a Christian school in Nashville in which a transgender woman killed six people, including three children.

Last March 30, 1,000 protestors stormed the Tennessee Capitol to demand more control over firearms. During the rally, protesters rebuked Republican lawmakers and Democratic representatives joined the agitators. In fact, they took to the stage with a megaphone to lead the protesters in chants for gun reform. They also staged altercations when the House decided to vote on April 3 on their possible expulsion. The protests were reported by local media outlets such as The Tennessean.

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, a Republican, explained that the removal votes were not related to the protests. However, he pointed out that Jones, Johnson and Pearson "[broke] several rules of decorum and procedure on the House floor."

In the last few hours, numerous media outlets have tried to highlight the fact that the two expelled representatives are black. Democrats tried to take advantage of this circumstance before his expulsion. However, some Republican representatives have spoken out:

Prior to the expulsion votes, Jones, Johnson and Pearson voted against a school security bill that would add armed guards to all Tennessee schools. The ousted representatives continued to call for protesters to return to the House and intensify the protests.

Joe Biden condemns expulsion vote

President Joe Biden criticized the decision by Tennessee House Republicans to expel the two Democratic lawmakers.

"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," said Biden in a statement.