NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The devastating Covenant School shooting and the expulsion of two Tennessee lawmakers — Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson — prompted large-scale gun reform protests in Nashville.
While Jones and Pearson are already back in their seats, it’s clear the protests are not slowing down anytime soon because another one is already planned for Friday, April 14.
According to community members, the rally is happening on the pedestrian bridge, connecting downtown and East Nashville, from 5 to 7 p.m. They said their call for gun control is urgent as the legislative session is slowing down for the year.
“The whole state has their eye on legislators taking action,” said Maryam Abolfazli, a concerned mother and Nashville resident. “We know they can take action really swiftly, so honestly, a lot of us are really wondering, what is the hold up?”
Gov. Bill Lee has said he wants state lawmakers to draft an “order of protection” bill before the end of this year’s session. However, there’s about one week left and the Democrats’ version of a “red flag” bill, which is the only red flag bill filed so far, was voted down on Thursday, April 13 in a House committee.
“If that’s how the leadership wants to present themselves, as a leadership of inaction, that’s on them, but we as a citizenry are very, very active in making sure something happens,” said Abolfazli.
The organizers said Friday evening’s rally is directed toward members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) who are in Nashville for their spring retreat.
By standing on the Pedestrian Bridge, they’re hoping the RNC members will see them while inside the Four Seasons Hotel.
Organizers are also asking participants to wear bright colors and bring signs.
Abolfazli said hundreds of people of all ages not going to stop pushing for legislation to pass as long as the legislature is in session.
“The distractions are over, like, just get to work and get it done. We’re watching you and we’re calling you and we’re meeting with you and we are very active citizens, engaged in the bills, people are reading the language,” said Abolfazli.
Another protest is set for Monday, April 17 as thousands of faith leaders in Tennessee and nationwide are called by the Repairers of the Breach to come to Nashville and join the movement.
Bishop William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach, said some clergy will carry caskets in the city to remind everyone about the reality of the issues for which they’re fighting.
“To have clergymen across the nation come to Nashville and to re-shift this narrative that after this attempt of politically crucifying not us, but this movement, that there will be a resurrection, I think that’s going to be so important because they’re hoping that this will go away,” Jones, a Democrat representing parts of Nashville, said when he spoke to a group of clergy following his expulsion last week. “They’re hoping that the pressure won’t be sustained.”