The Crusader Newspaper Group

Expulsion of 2 Black lawmakers, ‘wrong, immoral’

Photo caption: (l to r) Justin J. Pearson (D-TN) and Rep. Justin Jones (D-TN)

By Crusader press time on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, both Rep. Justin Jones (D-TN) and Justin J. Pearson (D-TN) have regained their seats after being ousted by a super majority State House of Representatives in Tennessee.

Bishop Tavis Grant, national acting executive director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, and Jitu Brown, national executive director of the Journey 4 Justice Alliance, called the act “un-American with Brown labeling it a system problem during a second interview on Monday, April 10, 2023.

Bishop Grant and Jones were referring to the expulsion of Reps. Justin Pearson (D-TN)(District 86) and Justin Jones (D-TN) (District 52) on March 30, 2023, for using bullhorns on the House floor to protest the failure of Republicans to discuss stricter gun laws. The incident happened days after a mass shooting at The Covenant School that left three children and three adults dead. Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-TN)(District 90), who is white, narrowly escaped expulsion by one vote. They have been dubbed the “Tennessee Three.”

Thanks to the Metro Council’s vote, Rep. Jones regained his seat Monday, April 10th; however, Rep. Justin Pearson had to wait until April 12, when the Shelby County Board of Commissioners met in Memphis to decide his fate.

Bishop Grant said the expulsion of the two Black House members is “un-American, un-democratic and morally unconscionable. The extremists on the far right believe in freedom for some and not for all from secession to sedition and institutionalized white supremacy.

“The far right has proven how far wrong they are willing to go to reclaim the heritage of racism and political obstruction,” Grant stated. “The miscalculation on their part was that they would be able to do this under the cloak of their right to bear arms,” Grant reasoned.

“Americans of all ilk are raising their voices and taking to the streets to declare this land is our land,” Bishop Grant said. “The Tennessee Three struck a chord in the symphony of civil rights and social justice that has drawn a chorus of Americans together who with one voice are speaking in one key and that is justice.

“We suspect they both will be reinstated and yet that will not be enough. We must now address the cancer of obstruction that allows mass shootings to now be a common acceptance in our culture.” According to Bishop Grant, 116 people die daily “because the far right is tone deaf with a convenient self-inflicted blindness that gives license to unfettered violence.”

Bishop Grant, who held a press event at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Saturday, April 8, called on Congress and the Senate to do something now because “doing nothing is an immoral act of cowardice.”

Brown, who also joined Bishop Grant on April 8, later told the Chicago Crusader, “The expulsion of the two Black State Representatives is a similar act to white men walking down the street with Tiki Torches saying Jews will never replace us. It is paramount to the same belief system that led to the storming of the Capitol on January 6. It is equivalent to Gov. DeSantis outlawing the teaching of Black studies. There is a belief system that says, “Stay in your place.”

“Racism and the lack of concern for human life is palatable especially when the human life is Black or brown,” said Brown. Race, he said, really doesn’t matter. “It could be a group of white children who unfortunately lose their lives. Those who are instruments of the gun lobby will defend their positions regardless of the lives lost.

“The expulsion of these two brave lawmakers reminds me of the Dred Scott decision,” Brown said referring to Missouri’s U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding slavery in the U.S. ruled 7-2 denying Blacks citizenship in America and declaring the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional.

“Our battle in the U.S. right now is not around an issue but it’s around a belief system,” Brown said. “The same reason why Congressman Jaamal Bowman called out his Republican counterpart as cowards for refusing to pass legislation to outlaw assault weapons, these two young men and the woman representative were brave enough to say, put children’s lives over profit.

“These people who are defending the right for everyday citizens to have assault weapons or in the case of Texas and Florida where you basically have the Wild West and there is no gun registration needed whatsoever is not patriotism,” Brown said. “It is people who are bought, sold and owned by the gun lobby. We say that human life is more important than property or profit and the only way to demonstrate that understanding is through the policy we pass and the will to enforce it.

“Those lives that were lost in Orlando, those lives out in Texas or any mass school shootings or the young lives lost on the streets of Chicago, Detroit or wherever all of those lives count,” Brown said. “We must have a society that makes it hard for children to fail, that makes it hard for children to die too soon. Our children going outside can’t be a crap shoot, not knowing whether they are going to make it home or not. What you are seeing right now around the country is a battle around belief systems.”

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