The Tennessee State Legislature has voted on the removal of three Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson, for their participation in an incident at the Tennessee State Capitol last week. The lawmakers were involved in protests both inside and outside the Capitol alongside their constituents.
Rep. Justin Jones was expelled by a vote of 72-25, while Rep. Johnson narrowly avoided removal, with the Tennessee House voting 65-30 in favor of expulsion, but falling short of the required 66 votes for removal.
This marks the first time in the state’s history that a partisan expulsion has taken place. During the hearing, Rep. Jones invoked the race card, accusing the minority member of “putting a brown face on white supremacy.” He also referred to the process as “a lynch mob.”
Before the vote, the Tennessee House played a video showing the three Democrats participating in the protest. The protesters had demanded gun control after a transgender individual had killed six people, including three children, at a Christian school in Nashville.
During the protest last week, Reps. Johnson, Jones and Pearson reached the House floor podium, encouraging protesters to seek gun control reform. These actions were in violation of the chamber rules.
Earlier in the day, Rep. Justin Jones used a bullhorn to lead demonstrators in chants outside the Capitol building.
Arriving ahead of the vote, the three lawmakers walked through a crowd of supporters. All three had their hands in the air – Johnson clasped the hand of Peterson, while Jones clenched one of his into a fist and raised it above his head.
🚨 It’s pick-a-side time 🚨 pic.twitter.com/DRHAT10qWT
— Ryan Shead (@RyanShead) April 6, 2023
In response to his ousting, Rep. Jones said, “Your overreaction, your flexing of false power has awakened a generation of people who will let you know that your time is up.”
According to The Tennessean, seven Republicans “broke with their party to vote against expulsion” of Rep. Johnson. House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, also contended that the claims in the expulsion resolution lacked sufficient evidence.
A third vote against Pearson is pending.