Two Democrats were expelled from Tennessee’s Republican-dominated House of Representatives for their participation in a gun control protest at the state legislature last Wednesday.
This protest was held in the aftermath of the shooting at Nashville school 27 March, in which six people, including three children were killed.
The Republicans, which control the house 75-23 vote to remove Justin Jones and Justin Pearson.
Gloria Johnson, a third Democratic member, was defeated by one vote in a move to expel Gloria Johnson, who stood beside them during the protests on the floor.
Andrew Farmer, Gino and Bud Bulso, Republican representatives, had filed three resolutions Monday to expel their Democratic counterparts. They claimed that they violated decorum by leading the demonstration.
72-25 voted along party lines for Mr Jones’ removal and 69-26% for Mr Pearson’s. Ms. Johnson was not expelled when she was voted out 65-30.
Expulsion requires a total of 66 votes
“You can’t ignore the racial dynamics of today. Two young black legislators are expelled, while the white woman is not. After the vote, Pearson stated that it was a bold statement.
The proceedings were decried by President Joe Biden, who tweeted that they were “shockingly undemocratic and without precedent”.
Former President Barack Obama also criticized the move, saying that “this nation was built upon peaceful protest.” A elected official shouldn’t lose their job for speaking out – especially if they are doing it in the name of our children.
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Since the Civil War, only two Tennessee state representatives were expelled by their peers: one for soliciting a payment in return for blocking legislation in 1980 and another for sexual misconduct allegations by multiple women in 2016.
Both expulsions were overwhelmingly supported by bipartisan votes.
According to the Democratic Party of Tennessee, it is raising funds for special elections in support of any expelled.
Last week, protesters marched to demand tighter gun laws.
In the resolutions calling for their expulsion, Republicans accused them of engaging in disorderly behavior and stated that they “knowingly and intentionally brought disorder and dishonour the House of Representatives through the individual and collective actions of their members”.