To the Editor:
On March 30, following the March 27 shooting at the Covenant School that left three children and three staff members dead, students and parents came to the Tennessee statehouse to demand stiffer gun laws. (Tennessee is an open-carry state with no permit required, and the legislature was considering lowering the age from 21 to 18.) Three Democratic state representatives, Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson, addressed the protesters on the House floor. Rather than listen to their constituents and consider stronger gun-safety legislation, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives instead voted to expel Jones and Pearson, both of whom are Black, for breaking “several rules of decorum and procedure on the House floor.” Johnson, who is white, missed being expelled by one vote. All three had already been stripped of their committee assignments.
This blatantly racist and antidemocratic act must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Tennessee’s Republican legislators claim there is nothing they can do about gun violence. They are wrong. We urge them to rescind the expulsion of Representatives Pearson and Jones, and to restore them and Rep. Johnson to their respective committees. and by restoring them and Rep. Johnson to their respective committees. Then they can listen to the parents and students, and get to work on drafting sensible gun-safety laws for Tennessee.
Jonathan Chatinover, chair
Democratic Council of Martha’s Vineyard