While the GOP voted on the proposed expulsions, protestors shouted from the galleries, and some representatives got into scuffles with one another. By the end of the session, state troopers had to be called in to calm things down. One woman was arrested.
Reps. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, Justin Jones of Nashville, and Justin Pearson of Memphis interrupted last Thursday's legislative session by approaching the podium without being recognized to speak and using bullhorns to share their message. The trio also led protestors in the galleries in a series of chants.
Members of the GOP decried their actions, with one member going so far as to refer to it as an "insurrection." Resolutions calling for their expulsion were introduced Monday, with Republicans arguing that, they "did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions."
When the first resolution was read out, protestors began shouting at GOP members; chants of "Fascists! Fascists!" echoed through the chamber. In the end, the resolutions were passed along party-lines, 72-23. The final decisions will be made on Thursday, after Johnson, Jones, and Pearson have had a chance to defend themselves.
"This is a sad day for Tennessee," Jones tweeted alongside a video that appeared to show GOP Rep. Justin Lafferty pushing him and grabbing his phone.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton slammed the trio for their behavior, which he argued "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."
"We have always welcomed peaceful protestors to the capitol to have their voices heard on any issue," he added. "We cannot allow the actions of the three members to distract us from protecting our children. We will get through this together, and it will require talking about all solutions."
As the Tennessean reports, Johnson called the situation "unprecedented and utterly ridiculous," and said she would consider filing a lawsuit if she and her colleagues are officially expelled on Thursday, pointing out that a number of other representatives had been allowed to remain after scandals far worse than disrupting proceedings were revealed.
"We had a child molester on the floor for years, they helped him get reelected and did nothing to expel him," Johnson said. "We've had members pee in each other's chairs. We've had members illegally prescribe drugs to their cousin-mistress, and nothing happened. But talk on the floor without permission, and you'll get expelled."
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