Nashville — More than 7,000 students skipped class to march to the Tennessee State Capitol on April 3 at 10:13 a.m. The day and time chosen for the march were exactly one week after Nashville police received the first call about an active shooter who killed six people at The Covenant School.
That day, three Democratic state representatives, Rep. Gloria Johnson (Knoxville), Rep. Justin Jones (Nashville), and Rep. Justin Pearson (Memphis) took part in the protests. These representatives soon faced retaliation by Tennessee House Republicans who sought to remove them from their committee assignments. As of today, Rep. Jones and Rep. Pearson were expelled and Rep. Johnson’s removal was voted on but failed.
In addition, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, a Republican, took away these three members’ ability to enter the Cordell Hull Legislative Building and the parking garage.
Sherrilyn Ifill, a law professor and previous President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund shared a video from Rep. Justin Jones and tweeted, “This is a VERY SERIOUS situation unfolding in Nashville. The reps who stood w/their constituents who came to the state house to demand gun safety, are facing expulsion from the House. Their Member ID badges have already been turned off. This is how democracy ends.”
This is a VERY SERIOUS situation unfolding in Nashville. The reps who stood w/their constituents who came to the state house to demand gun safety, are facing expulsion from the House. Their Member ID badges have already been turned off. This is how democracy ends. https://t.co/9dOCWMPx2B
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@SIfill_) April 3, 2023
In effect, those actions took away the voices of the protestors, the focus on the six victims who lost their lives, and the families who lost their loved ones.
— Speaker Cameron Sexton (@CSexton25) April 3, 2023
‘I would never carry a gun in front of my students’ — After TN lawmakers voted to advance a bill that would allow teachers to arm themselves in the wake of a mass shooting in Nashville, one member from anti-gun violence org Moms Demand Action went in pic.twitter.com/NqHJ7SrFcS
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) April 6, 2023
Bobbi Sloan, a Vanderbilt University sophomore, shared her reasons for protesting. She said, “As an elementary education major, I feel I can’t stand by as legislators actively try to pass bills that they know are faulty and dangerous.” Having attended the hearing, she said “Many valid objections were heard, with many of the objections pointing out inconsistencies and contradictory provisions within the bill. Representative Ryan Williams contradicted himself several times and could not answer critical questions regarding the application of this bill in schools. He could not ensure that this bill would keep people safe.”