National Urban League and Tennessee Affiliates Condemn Expulsion of Black Tennessee Lawmakers, Urge Passage of Common-Sense Gun Safety Measures
WASHINGTON, D.C and TENNESEE (April 6, 2023) – Today, National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, Knoxville Area Urban League President and CEO Charles Lomax, Ph.D., Memphis Urban League President and CEO Tonja Fifer, Urban League of Middle Tennessee President and CEO Clifton Harris, and Urban League of Greater Chattanooga President and CEO Candy Johnson, condemned the expulsion of Tennessee Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, two Black Tennessee state legislators, urge the House to reverse the move and focus on passing sensible gun safety measures:
“Tonight, Republican lawmakers have set a dangerous precedent in Tennessee, proving what we have known all along: the safety of their constituents is not their top priority. The bold and brazen attempt to silence their colleagues with an antiquated House rule and compare their advocacy to the January 6th insurrection shows that the majority will stop at nothing to maintain their status quo and their increasing willingness to silence their counterparts. These methods represent a clear and present danger to the state of our democracy.
“Nearly a week ago, another school was plagued by another mass shooting, claiming the lives of six people. Another community was devastated. Families destroyed. And instead of focusing on finding solutions to the growing threat of gun violence, the Republican majority has decided to reprimand their colleagues and expel them. When are we going to focus on the real issues? They are more concerned with rebuking Democrats for protesting rather than focusing on ways to prevent more school shootings.
“Many important reforms in this country have originated from protests against established practices. To punish these men for exercising their constitutional right to free speech is not only unjustifiable but also un-American. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives was successful in removing two of their colleagues, not only disenfranchising over 200,000 Tennesseans, and leaving them without proper representation.
“On behalf of our 92 affiliates and the Urban League movement, we stand with Reps. Pearson and Jones and other leaders in their continued fight for sensible gun safety measures and call on their Republican colleagues to end this, restore the fate of your constituents so that we can get back to fighting for real change.”