President Joe Biden expressed support for the three Tennessee lawmakers who faced expulsion for protesting gun violence on their state House Floor during their visit to the White House.
On Monday (April 24), Democratic Reps. Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson met with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House following their controversial stance on gun violence in the wake of the Nashville school shooting.
The president commended the Tennessee Three's efforts to push forward gun reform in their state.
“You’re standing up for our kids. You’re standing up for our communities,” Biden told the lawmakers during their White House visit, per USA TODAY. “What the Republican legislature did was shocking. It was undemocratic.”
The White House invite came after Jones, Pearson, and Johnson were accused by GOP lawmakers of engaging in “disorderly behavior” "knowingly and intentionally" bringing "dishonor to the House of Representatives” when they protested gun violence on the House Floor. Following a vote, Black lawmakers Jones and Pearson were expelled from the Tennessee House. Johnson, who is white, was spared from expulsion by one vote.
Days after their expulsions, Jones and Pearson were reappointed to the state legislature.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed last week that Biden would be meeting with the lawmakers now known as the Tennessee Three.
“The president has been very clear about how very important it is to take the next steps when it comes to gun reform, and he saw these three legislators as taking that next step,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “He was proud and very appreciative of their efforts of what they were doing in the state House and how important it is to have that type of visibility, to have those voices out there to continue to call on an issue that he’s been talking about not just for the past several months, but for years.”
Following the White House meeting, Pearson, alongside Johnson and Jones, delivered a poignant message directed at the Republican Party.
“For the Republican Party, who too often likes the status quo than justice, who too often is okay supporting white supremacy and patriarchy than supporting policies that can keep children alive, the message has been very clear from Tennesseeans, both Republican and Democrat, white and Black, and rich and poor,” Pearson said. “Something must be done.”
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