Republican Reaction to Tennessee Legislators’ Protest Puts Problematic Viewpoints on National Display

A map of the US zoomed in on Tennessee

Photo by Arturo Añez:

A US map in color divided into states, cropped to focus on the state of Tennessee in the middle.

Sophia Steen, Staff Writer

On April 6th, 3 Tennessee state legislators were criticized for protesting gun violence after the Covenant school shooting with constituents at the Tennessee state house. Rep. Justin Jones, Rep. Justin Pearson and Rep. Gloria Johnson took a bullhorn to the well of the statehouse, leading the protests that came that day in support of gun safety legislation in a chant. As a result the Republican super majority held a vote to expel the 3 members for breaking the house floor rules. Jones and Pearson, both young Black men, were expelled while Johnson, a middle aged white woman, held onto her seat. 

Republicans argued that the reason for the expulsions was because the representatives spoke out of turn and tried to “incite violence” by leading the protests. They even went as far as to compare their actions to Donald Trump encouraging violence at the January 6th insurrection. The Tennessee lawmakers participated in a peaceful protest against deadly gun violence. Donald Trump encouraged people to use violence to overturn a democratic process. 

What Republicans in Tennessee fail to realize is that they just added more fuel to the fire by drawing more attention to their already problematic stances. In a disgusting attempt to silence voices who were advocating for change, they just launched these representatives into the national spotlight. These members now have a national platform with endorsements from every prominent democrat. No one except for Tennessee constituents would have known who these representatives were if it weren’t for the stupidity and bigotry of their republican counterparts who made the most politically incompetent decision.  

In addition to their political stupidity, they enforced separate consequences for two black men and the white woman who participated. This racist behavior betrays the American ideals they claim to stand for. Not only did they further erode the trust of voters who believe in racial equality, but also they made their bias and apathy nationally known. 

Both Jones and Pearson have been reinstated in their seats, with a multitude of support from some of the most powerful figures in America, as well as the most powerful voices in America, the people. 

This should also show Americans how important local elections are. Your lesser known representatives may be the ones fighting the hardest to make your voice heard.