Cliff Albright and LaTosha Brown, Co-Founders of Black Voters Matter and April England-Albright, National Legal Director of Black Voters Matter issue the following statement on the expulsion of Black Tennessee lawmakers
The recent expulsion of Tennessee Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson for protesting gun control within the state, after the recent murder of elementary students and school staff during the recent school shooting, is racist, wrong and reminiscent of the removal of Black elected officials following the Reconstruction era. This punitive measure not only silences the voices of elected representatives, but also deprives the predominantly Black voters in those legislative districts of their right to be heard on crucial issues affecting their lives.
We applaud the community members who protested at the legislature in order to demand action on gun violence, and we commend Reps. Jones, Pearson and Johnson for supporting such civil disobedience. Their actions are in the same spirit of making “good trouble” that John Lewis encouraged us all to follow. For Republican lawmakers to call these actions a “temper tantrum” and “insurrection”, while they have simultaneously complemented and defended January 6 terrorists whose actions actually led to multiple deaths, is an affront to the countless victims whose lives have been tragically cut short as a result of gun violence.
Black Voters Matter joins the people of Tennessee, led by determined youth, in demanding that the Tennessee legislature spend less time trying to “season” and “break in” young Black leaders and spend more time passing laws that will safeguard our communities from the ongoing crisis of gun violence. In the meantime, we are committed to assisting the voters in these districts to return Reps. Jones and Pearson to the rightful positions.