LANSING, Mich., April 7, 2023 — Yesterday, we watched horrified as the Republican supermajority in the Tennessee General Assembly moved resolutions to expel three Democratic lawmakers for exercising their rights to speak and protest in support of gun violence prevention earlier in the week. As if this unconstitutional move to silence members of the minority party wasn’t a bad enough slap in the faces of their constituents, the result of only the two Black members — Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) and Rep. Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) — ultimately being expelled added insult to injury.
“The General Assembly narrowly voting to preserve the seat of the only white woman of the ‘Tennessee Three’ was a blatantly racist action, rooted in Jim Crow tactics,” said MLBC Exec. Vice Chair, Rep. Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw). “Yesterday, the Tennessee Republican-led General Assembly showed that its members will use unjust methods, flimsy evidence, and inconsistent rules to go to any lengths to attempt silencing Black members fighting for justice,” added MLBC Chairperson, Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor).
Democracy died in the Tennessee General Assembly yesterday, for all the world to see. The unfounded authoritarian actions of its majority party are a travesty.
“What occurred yesterday, was nothing short of a political lynching of two strong, young, Black, male legislators, guilty of nothing except doing the jobs their communities sent them to the legislature to do,” said MLBC Treasurer, Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit).
This injustice against two Black legislators just days after the 55th memorial of Dr. King’s assassination in Memphis after speaking truth to power is not insignificant and is yet another example of the systemic racism that still exists in this country—even in the halls of legislative power. The MLBC condemns the authoritarian-anti democratic expulsions and stands in solidarity with Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson upon whom light, truth and justice will shine.
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