NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The “Tennessee Three” appeared on national news Monday, saying that both race and silencing gun control played a part in last week’s expulsions.
One week since lawmakers introduced expulsion resolutions for the three Democratic lawmakers, Justin Pearson (D—Memphis) told a nationwide TV audience on “GMA3” he did not know that their protest was breaking a house rule of decorum.
“No, no. We had no idea that what we were doing would break a rule that would lead to our possible expulsions or our actual expulsions,” said Pearson. “What we were doing was listening to voters who said, we need to listen to the people who want gun safety laws.”
Pearson said he was simply expressing his First Amendment right. Justin Jones (D—Nashville), who also had his seat taken, says it’s no coincidence the House’s two youngest Black lawmakers were expelled.
“Were kicked out by an almost entirely white, 78-member caucus strictly on partisan lines. It was a political lynching, it was an attempt to make a spectacle, an example out of us, and say, ‘how dare you think you are equal,'” said Jones.
Pearson said that race played a part, but it was also an attempt to stop the lawmakers calling for stricter gun control.
“The Republican Party of Tennessee would rather put more guns and security officers in schools than solutions,” said Pearson.
Rep. Gloria Johnson (D—Knoxville) narrowly kept her seat by a single vote. All three say this is not about them, but the thousands of constituents who lost their representation in the General Assembly.
“Our voters knew who we were. They voted for us for that very reason,” said Johnson.