OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 1:17 PM – Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Recently reinstated Representative Justin Jones attempted to bring an infant-sized casket into the Tennessee assembly floor before he was stopped on Monday.
Jones (D-Tenn.) along with Representative Justin Pearson (D-Tenn.), who had also been recently reinstated, participated in a protest against gun violence at the Tennessee State Capitol on Monday.
The demonstration they attended, which was organized by Bishop William Barber II of the Protestant Disciple of Christ Church, had called for more aggressive restrictions on gun ownership.
The attendees of the demonstration, led by Barber, had marched on the State Capitol and demanded that lawmakers pass the gun safety legislation and “stop using their authority to trample democracy.” Demonstrators also carried caskets symbolizing the victims of gun violence.
“The legislators are back, but returning duly elected lawmakers to their seat does not solve the problem,” Barber said according to AP News, and demanded that lawmakers “stop committing policy murder.”
Protestors had remained outside the Capitol and were blocked from bringing the caskets inside. However, Jones used his status to bring the casket into the building, bypassing troopers and security. He was ultimately barred from bringing the casket onto the House floor by the Sergeant at Arms.
Justin handed the casket off to Pearson, who was also participating in the demonstrations with him, before going onto the floor.
After the shooting at The Covenant School, the two lawmakers, along with Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Tenn.) had similarly led protestors to the House floor on March 30th, interrupting the proceedings at the time.
The Republican-led state House had then voted to expel Jones and Pearson from the legislature because they had disrupted the proceedings by using a bullhorn to rally protestors on the House floor.
However, the two were ultimately reinstated by the Nashville Metropolitan Council, and the Shelby County Board of Commissioners.
After they were expelled, President Joe Biden spoke with the three representatives over video call and thanked them for “their leadership” in seeking stricter gun laws and “standing up for our democratic values.”
Vice President Kamala Harris also visited Tennessee on April 7th to meet with the three Democrat representatives after they faced the expulsion vote.
“We are here because [Jones, Pearson and Johnson] and their colleagues in the Democratic caucus chose to show courage in the face of extreme tragedy,” Harris said. “They chose to lead and show courage and say that a democracy allows for places where the people’s voice will be heard and honored and respected.”
The Vice President faced criticism for making the trip to Nashville to meet with the Democrats, but had not made the effort to visit with the families of the victims from The Covenant School shooting.
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