Republican lawmakers in Tennessee have voted once again to silence state Representative Justin Jones, a Black Democrat from Nashville who was previously expelled from the House, then reelected to office, for leading protests against gun violence. On Monday, Jones was barred by Republicans from speaking for the remainder of the day, after he made critical comments about a bill to bring more police officers into Tennessee’s schools. After protesters in the House gallery erupted into chants of “fascists!” and “racists!” Republicans ordered state police to remove the public — including the parents of students who died from gun violence. This is state Representative Justin Jones speaking from outside Tennessee’s Capitol building just after he was silenced.
Rep. Justin Jones: “What we’re seeing is this misapplication, this abuse of rules under the leadership of Speaker Cameron Sexton. Members of the public were taken out the gallery. I was told I was going to be silent. Our caucus walked out in solidarity, because what’s happening is not democratic. It is authoritarianism. It’s very troubling, what we’re witnessing here. You can see that the Capitol is surrounded, you know, by troopers. And this does not look like a democratic body anymore.”
Before he was silenced, Representative Jones had been planning to force a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Cameron Sexton, the speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Click here to see our interview with Representative Justin Jones on Friday. It was his 28th birthday.