President Joe Biden met Monday with three Tennessee state legislators at the White House, two of whom were temporarily expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives after staging a raucous protest in the chamber.
Their colleagues expelled state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson after they interrupted a legislative session by shouting through a bullhorn. The two were joined in interrupting the session by state Rep. Gloria Johnson, who later barely survived an expulsion vote.
“You’re standing up for our kids, you’re standing up for our communities,” Biden told the three Democrat state legislators in their Oval Office meeting, referring to the lawmakers’ gun control advocacy.
“What the Republican legislature did was shocking, it was undemocratic,” Biden said of the GOP-controlled Tennessee House of Representatives’ votes on whether to expel the three lawmakers.
Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the Tennessee lawmakers only came out in front of the media’s cameras for about five minutes.
In their protest, the three rabble-rousing politicians demanded that the Tennessee General Assembly pass more gun controls after a shooter at The Covenant School in Nashville killed three children and three school staffers on March 27. Police said the shooter, who was fatally shot by responding officers, was a biological woman who claimed to identify as a man.
Biden has faced criticism for inviting politicians to the White House but not inviting family members of those killed in the school shooting in Nashville.
Harris joined the Oval Office meeting.
Although the Tennessee House voted to expel Jones and Pearson, it fell short of the votes needed to expel Johnson. Both Jones and Pearson were reinstated to the Legislature by their local governments.
In a 2020 video, Jones is seen climbing atop a police car during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Pearson became known for an older video that popped up on social media showing his appearance in college, looking like a mainstream, moderate young politician. That’s compared to today, when Pearson casts himself as a more polarizing, radical politician.
Tennessee didn’t impose new gun control measures after the school shooting, but did pass a school safety package. It requires schools to lock exterior doors, develop annual safety plans, and implement higher standards for private security guards. It also requires school districts to establish threat assessments.
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