Tennessee Democrat claims skin color could be why she was not expelled by Republicans

Tennessee Lawmaker Expulsion
Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, center, Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, back left and Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, huddle on the floor of the House chamber Thursday, April 6, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee Republicans are seeking to oust the three House Democrats for their role in a demonstration calling for gun control following the Nashville school shooting. (AP Photo/George Walker IV) George Walker IV/AP

Tennessee Democrat claims skin color could be why she was not expelled by Republicans

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Republicans in the Tennessee state legislature are being accused of racism after expelling two black Democratic lawmakers from the House after they disrupted a session of the legislature, but not expelling the white woman who also protested.

Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were both expelled from the heavily GOP-controlled chamber on Thursday, one week after they used a bullhorn to support a protest for gun control held in the wake of the recent deadly shooting in Nashville.


The effort to remove 60-year-old state Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is white, failed by one vote. However, Johnson did not use the bullhorn to interrupt the meeting. When asked why she was saved, Johnson responded that it “may have to do with the color of our skin.”

Other lawmakers and black activists also claimed the vote could have been racially motivated, with the Congressional Black Caucus also slamming Thursday’s vote.

“The targeted expulsions of Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson — two Black duly elected members representing minority districts — makes clear that racism is alive and well in Tennessee,” the Congressional Black Caucus said in a statement. “This move is not only racist and anti-democratic, it is morally bankrupt and out of step with the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that we need common sense gun control reforms to save lives.”

Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., claimed that the vote was a clear sign of a “moral crisis” in state and national governments.


“What a blatant attack on democracy in Tennessee today,” King tweeted. “The vote to expel @brotherjones_ is political retaliation and a reflection of a severe moral crisis in our state and national governments. This attack on democracy is also a racist attack, as the third lawmaker, Rep. Gloria Johnson, is white. A disastrously amoral day for Tennessee House Republicans in a state reeling from a school shooting.”

Members of the Tennessee state house revealed that they would vote on dismissing the members earlier in the week. Johnson said she would consider filing a lawsuit if they were kicked out, but with Johnson being saved from the expulsion, it’s unclear whether she would still file a lawsuit.

“We’re going to push back, and we’re going to fight this because it’s unprecedented and utterly ridiculous,” Johnson told the Tennessean on Monday before accusing Republicans of double standards. “We had a child molester on the floor for years; they helped him get reelected and did nothing to expel him. We’ve had members pee in each other’s chairs, and nothing happened. But talk on the floor without permission, and you’ll get expelled.”


Conservatives have rejected the idea that the vote was racially motivated, noting the shooting itself at the Covenant Christian School had nothing to do with race.

The shooting has revitalized Democrats’ push to ban assault weapons.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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