NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A mother of a Covenant student and others broke down in tears in the halls of the Tennessee Statehouse after all audience members were kicked out of a Civil Justice subcommittee meeting for clapping and speaking after being told to stop.
“Being here in general is rough. I don’t think these people get what this means. We are here for six people who were killed in our school. We are just trying to do something,” said Sarah Shoop Neumann. “It is hard to be here. It’s overwhelming…to walk past the Proud Boys. I’m sitting with the [Tennessee Firearms Association] in front of me.”
Neumann spoke with WKRN State Capitol Reporter, Chris O’Brien, after being removed from the meeting. She told O’Brien she was shocked by the decision. “They don’t understand the courage it takes to get up here and sit in those rooms and face those people knowing they don’t agree with you on it, but you’ve got to try.”
The co-founder of the nonprofit Covenant Families for Brighter Tomorrows said there is anger on both sides, making it harder for productive conversations.
“I know there are big personalities but there are also dead kids and grieving people looking for solutions.”
Before clearing the room completely, Chairman Rep. Lowell Russell (R-Vonore) asked state troopers to remove others from the subcommittee meeting for carrying paper signs.
According to the rules for the special session established Monday, no signs or flags are permitted on the House floor or in committee hearings.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) was in the subcommittee when audience members were kicked out.
“It’s really concerning when you have your colleagues who are so drunk on power that they feel like they can do anything and treat people with complete disrespect,” Clemmons said.
According to Clemmons, this is just one example of how the special session is being run.
“This is not what democracy looks like. This state government of the people or the people running our state legislature have completely taken this thing off the rails,” he added.
The House Republican Caucus did not respond to a request for comment.
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