ACLU-TN Statement on Expulsion of Legislators After School Shooting

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April 6, 2023

Lindsay Kee, 615-320-7142

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, members of the Tennessee House of Representatives expelled Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson from the state legislature.

The lawmakers were expelled for amplifying the voices of their constituents in a peaceful, non-violent manner by chanting from the well of the House chamber along with people gathered in the balcony to protest gun policies three days after the March 27 Nashville school shooting that left six people dead, including three children.

Lawmakers did not vote to expel Rep. Gloria Johnson, who was also present in the well alongside Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson. Rep. Johnson is white and Rep. Jones and Rep. Pearson are Black.

The following can be attributed to Kathy Sinback, ACLU-TN executive director:

“Over the course of this legislative session, the Tennessee General Assembly has systematically eroded the rights of some of the most vulnerable communities in our state. These expelled lawmakers represent over 136,000 people – predominantly people of color – in districts across the state, and this expulsion strips these voters of their representation.

Furthermore, only a small minority of Tennessee legislators are people of color. Not only is this targeted expulsion of two Black legislators without due process an extreme measure that undermines democracy, it raises questions about the disparate treatment of Black representatives, while continuing the shameful legacy of disenfranchising and silencing the voices of marginalized communities and the Black lawmakers they elect.

This unprecedented, authoritarian effort to silence opposition sets a dangerous precedent that could threaten democracy in statehouses across the country. We will continue to fight for a state where all Tennesseans have a voice and are treated justly and equitably.”


2023-04-06T20:08:08-05:00 April 6th, 2023|Categories: General News, Press Releases|