On April 7, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, two Black Representatives, were voted out of the Tennessee House of Representatives following their protest favoring gun control, and their support of the young people demonstrating outside. And to her credit, Gloria Johnson, a White female representative who was not ousted, stood in solidarity with her comrades.
Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton compared the actions of Jones and Pearson to the actions of January 6. How do you equate an infraction of decorum with an infraction of insurrection? Representatives Jones and Pearson, stood in peaceful protest, armed with nothing more dangerous than two bull horns.
They did not scale the walls of the building.
They did not break windows.
They did not steal government property.
They did not have or brandish weapons.
They did not attack law enforcement personnel.
They did not cause the other members of the house to duck under their chairs, or flee the room in fear of their lives.
Wherein lies the comparison?
The punishment far outweighed the crime. The expulsion of these two men disenfranchised the 130,000 constituents in their two primarily Black districts. This reeks of an insidious throwback to the Old South, where all sort of devious measures were used to deny Black representation.
Thankfully, the voices of Jones and Pearson have not been permanently silenced. Their reinstatement to the Tennessee House, affords them partial justice, as they await the interim election to re-seat them permanently. For now, the Black districts that they serve once again have representation.
Victimizing Jones and Pearson served to deflect attention from the real issue of that day: the young people’s protest as they mourned the death of three students and three school personnel. They cried out to the lawmakers for help to stop the proliferation of guns that are murdering so many of their generation.
Our nation is in a crisis, where the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is in direct conflict with the right to bear arms.
Are we returning to the gun totin’, wild west, vigilante mentality? We can carry a gun with no permit, and there is a movement to lower the age from 21 to 18, not only in Tennessee but in my Florida home state. Where is this perceived need coming from? What has gone wrong in America to inspire this increased demand for self-protection with a deadly weapon?
I grew up cradled in the arms of safety. The next generation of my family will be the children of my grandkids. I fear for the unbridled America that my great-grandchildren will face. I fear for their lives because the threat could even come from those too young to lawfully drink alcohol, but of a legal age to carry a deadly weapon.