Expelled Tennessee lawmaker vows to return to office

The expulsion vote came less than two weeks after three 9-year-old children and three adults were fatally shot at an elementary school in Nashville.

Jones said he and Pearson don’t see their role as convincing opposing lawmakers of their views, but instead as being a “voice of moral dissent” and a “speed bump to try and stop them from driving this train off the cliff.”

More than a dozen members of Nashville’s Metro Council said they plan to vote to reappoint Jones and send him back to the Tennessee House of Representatives, The Tennessean reported.

That “hostile environment,” Jones added, has been driven by Republicans, including House Speaker Cameron Sexton, who don’t view young Black men such as Jones and Pearson as equal or deserving of being in the Legislature: “We know what we’re facing.”

In a separate interview on Fox News Friday morning, Sexton defended the expulsion vote and pushed back on accusations that racism was the reason why Jones and Pearson were expelled while Johnson was not — an allegation Johnson herself made to reporters after Thursday’s vote. The speaker said Johnson’s lawyers argued that she acted differently than the pair during the protest — she didn’t shout or use a bullhorn — and other members thought she didn’t play as central a role in the demonstration as Jones and Pearson.

“She is trying to cloak racism in this, which there was nothing on this. They were all given due process,” Sexton told Fox News. “What they did was not right, and it deserved expulsion.”

Sexton also defended the Legislature’s actions against President Joe Biden’s condemnation that the expulsions were “shocking” and “undemocratic,” saying he doesn’t believe the president would tolerate such protests on the congressional floor.

Johnson said she doesn’t believe there was due process for her and the two others: “There were no rules,” she told MSNBC Friday morning, adding that she was questioned by lawmakers in a different way than the two men. “It is scary this is what’s happening to our democratic process.”

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