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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USFSP chapter.

Last Thursday, April 6th, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to expel two Democratic Representatives. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled due to their leading a protest for gun control on the chamber floor on March 30th. This demonstration was following the devastating mass shooting that occurred in Nashville a few weeks ago. Jones and Pearson were also joined by another Representative, Gloria Johnson, in the protest. However, Johnson was not expelled. The fact that the representatives were expelled for protesting the current state of gun control in the state of Tennessee, and the United States in general, angered many people and emphasized the worry that many feel about the issue of gun violence being silenced and ignored. After their expulsion, the two representatives encouraged protestors to assemble at the Capitol once the House was back in session on Monday

In the days following the Nashville shooting, lawmakers were prevented from speaking about gun violence and mass shootings while on the House floor. Jones claimed that their microphones were silenced any time the topic was brought up, which was one of the reasons why they chose to participate in the demonstration. The protest that Jones, Pearson, and Johnson participated in occurred on the House floor, where they used “a bullhorn as demonstrators called for lawmakers to do something to prevent further gun violence.”  

After the three representatives led the demonstration about gun violence and gun control, the Republican House Speaker, Cameron Sexton, made his distaste for their actions clear, stating that they were “unacceptable” and that they broke “several rules of decorum and procedure on the House floor.” The Monday following the demonstrations, there were three resolutions filed that called for the expulsions of Jones, Johnson, and Pearson. The resolutions were filed by Republican Representatives Bud Hulsey, Gino Bulso, and Andrew Farmer. They claimed that Jones, Pearson, and Johnson “knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor.” Tennessee Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison stated that Johnson and Pearson had a “history of disrupting floor proceedings.”  

Representative Gloria Johnson, the one who was not ousted, stated that she is “a 60-year-old White woman” and that Pearson and Jones are “two young Black men.” She believes that the reasoning behind why she was not expelled from the House, like Jones and Pearson, is because she is White. Johnson is calling attention to the underlying racism that could be occurring within the Tennessee House of Representatives.  

In response to the expulsion of both Jones and Pearson, multiple people have spoken out. President Biden stated that the situation was “shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent.” Vice President Harris went to Nashville to fight for stricter gun laws and measures within the U.S. on Friday. While Harris was there, she privately met with Jones, Pearson, and Johnson. The chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, Hendrell Remus, stated that the expulsions were a “direct political attack” on the Democratic Party. The NAACP deemed the situation “horrific but not surprising.”  

On Monday, April 10th, Representative Justin Jones was reinstated by the Nashville Metro Council as a member of the House with a vote of 36 to 0. Councilwoman Delishia Porterfield stated that by reinstating Jones, the council is “restoring the political voice of 70,000 people of District 52.” Following the vote, both Jones and Pearson spoke to the crowd gathered in support of them, stating that “this is the rebirth and resurrection of a movement in Tennessee” and that it is “the birth of the new South.” The pair emphasized that younger people will be transforming the country and things will be changing. Jones was sworn in about an hour after the council voted, while his supporters were chanting “welcome home.”  

After Jones was reinstated, Pearson stated that this was progress made towards “having a pluralistic, multiracial, multiethnic, multi-economic democracy.” Pearson’s potential reinstatement is determined by Shelby County Commission, and the vote will be held on Wednesday, the 12th.  

Many have worried that the expulsions are only a form of distraction from the real issue at hand – the lack of gun control and the increase in gun violence all throughout the United States. It seems that the expulsions were merely a direct hit against the democratic party of Tennessee, further fueling the political polarization that is only worsening across the nation. Hopefully, Pearson is reinstated in the House on Wednesday, and Jones, Pearson, and Johnson, the “Tennessee Three,” continue their fight.  

gia is an editor and writer at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg chapter. she often writes articles about politics and books. she is studying english at the university of south florida. in the future, she plans to go to law school and then work in the book publishing industry. In her free time, she loves to read and write, and she can frequently be found browsing for new books at a bookstore or studying at the library. she will always have a book with her and will talk about books with anyone!