Editor’s note: This article has been updated.
Tennessee’s Republican-held House voted Thursday to expel two out of three Democratic members for leading what House leadership called an “insurrection” at the state Capitol last week following Nashville’s school shooting.
The House voted to expel Nashville Rep. Justin Jones 72 to 25 and Memphis Rep. Justin Pearson 69 to 26 for “disorderly conduct” via HR 65 and HR 63 introduced Monday. Jones, Pearson and Knoxville Rep. Gloria Johnson joined a group of gun control protestors in the building last Thursday, and joined in chants via a bullhorn between bills; resolutions to expel the three of them were introduced Monday, according to The Tennessean.
“The world is watching Tennessee because what is happening here today is a farce of Democracy,” Jones said in his opening statement. “I was not standing for myself, I was standing for my constituents…and I was standing for those young people…who are terrified by the continued trend of mass shootings plaguing our state and plaguing our station.”
Jones claimed that the resolutions to expel him and his colleagues were efforts to remove two young black members and one of the few female members – whose expulsion resolution failed to receive two thirds majority at 65 to 30 votes – of the Legislature.
BREAKING: @brotherjones_ a duly elected representative, has been expelled from the Tennessee State House for standing up for kids killed by guns. This is fascist, undemocratic behavior. #TennesseeThree
— March For Our Lives ☮️ (@AMarch4OurLives) April 6, 2023
The resolutions claim the three members “did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions,” according to The Tennessean.
A video of the three representatives joining in on the protests in the House chamber was shown before the vote was taken, with many Democrats opposing the viewing. The members started chanting “power to the people,” “no action, no peace,” and “gun control now.”
Reps. Justin Jones, Gloria Johnson and Justin Pearson entered the TN House chamber to chants of “Tennessee three.” The trio faces expulsion from the House later today. pic.twitter.com/I0PHfymOoH
— Adam Friedman (@friedmanadam5) April 6, 2023
Protesters flooded the state Capitol, demanding for strengthened gun regulations, making their way throughout the hallways and eventually to the chamber where the three members joined in. The protests came after 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who identified as transgender and used “he/him” pronouns, shot and killed three children and three adults at private Christian institution, The Covenant School.
Hale, who was reportedly undergoing medical treatment for an undisclosed “emotional disorder” prior to the shooting, was a former student of the school and might have harbored some “resentment” there, according to Nashville police. (RELATED: Chaos Unravels As Anti-Gun Activists Swarm Inside Tennessee Capitol)
Earlier in Thursday’s legislative agenda, the House passed Gov. Bill Lee’s school safety bill that would strengthen school safety at public and private schools. The bill will help ensure that exterior doors remain locked when students are present, requires every school system to have “threat assessment teams” and mandates that security guards undergo active shooter training.
“Their actions are and will always be unacceptable, and they break several rules of decorum and procedure on the House floor. Their actions and beliefs that they could be arrested on the House floor were an effort, unfortunately, to make themselves the victims,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton said in a tweet Monday.
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