Racism charges have been leveled against Tennessee Republicans after they expelled two Black Democrats from the state House for disrupting proceedings during a gun control demonstration.
On Thursday, a week after speaking out of turn in support of a “GenZ-led” protest for gun control in the aftermath of the recent mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled from serving in the heavily GOP-controlled chamber.
Attempts to oust white Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson were unsuccessful by a single vote. Johnson did not utilize a bullhorn on the House floor as Jones did, but apart from that, it seems that the three Democrats have broken no rules.
Johnson speculated to reporters that the difference between her and her Black coworkers being let go and her being spared “may have to do with the color of our skin.” She wasn’t the only one who thought Republicans were targeting Jones and Pearson because of their skin color.
According to a tweet by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter Bernice King, the decision to expel @brotherjones_ is an act of political revenge that reflects a dire moral crisis in state and federal governments.
Gen Z for Change’s director of politics and government relations, Olivia Julianna, tweeted that this demonstrates “blatant prejudice.”
The Congressional Black Caucus called the decision morally bankrupt and not in keeping with the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that we need gun control reforms to save lives.
The lone Democrat representing Tennessee in Washington, D.C., Congressman Steve Cohen, issued a statement calling the decision to expel Jones and Pearson “a humiliating stain on an essential democratic institution.”
Several rightwing bloggers, like Todd Starnes, praised the action, saying it showed Republicans in Tennessee were standing up to “insurrectionists” and “racial agitators.”