Tennessee Republicans are facing accusations of racism after expelling two Black Democrats, Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, from the state House for breaching decorum during a gun control protest. The expulsion took place on Thursday in the heavily GOP-controlled chamber, just one week after both representatives spoke out of turn to support a youth-led protest for gun control. Notably, an effort to expel Democratic Representative Gloria Johnson, who is white, failed by merely one vote.
Democrats have accused their Republican counterparts of targeting Jones and Pearson based on race; however some Republican commentators have defended the move as warranted due to their breach of decorum.
In response to these events at the Tennessee state legislature level, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) criticized them for expelling two African American Democratic lawmakers—Justin Jones and Justin Pearson—for participating in a protest against gun violence within House proceedings. In a public statement denouncing this action taken by legislative officials with majority power over decision-making processes inside Congress' ranks nationwide: "The CBC accuses that these actions demonstrate how those currently holding sway chose 'to abdicate its responsibility keep communities safe.'"
U.S. Rep James Clyburn expressed concern about this development too—he called it disturbing news indeed considering he believes such measures shouldn't be partaken lightly or without basis—and deemed what happened not only completely baseless but also thoroughly undemocratic under normal circumstances where everyone respects each other's rights no matter political affiliation differences between parties involved here today."I am disturbed," said Clyburn."
Adding her voice in support was Rep Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who tweeted her support directly for expelled representative Jones last Thursday evening following initial reports coming through regarding controversial moves being made across party lines down south towards fellow members like him seeking justice reform via peaceful means possible even if sometimes unconventional ones were needed given current climate surrounding contentious issues pertaining firearms regulations nationwide.
Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist and president of the National Action Network, also condemned the expulsion of Jones and Pearson. This growing chorus of voices from various walks in life—political leaders as well as grassroots activists—is highlighting an increasingly divisive situation within Tennessee's state legislature while raising questions about racial motivations behind these recent expulsions.