(Washington) The exclusion of two young black elected officials from Tennessee who demonstrated in the local parliament to demand stricter supervision of firearms was denounced on Friday as racist and revived in some the not so old wounds of segregation.
This extremely rare measure, which the House of Representatives of this southern state applied to two African-American Democrats but not to a third white elected official, was criticized as far as Washington, where President Joe Biden deemed it “shocking and “undemocratic”.
“Silencing two black elected officials for peacefully protesting gun violence is not only racist, it is also a radical departure from the democratic rules and traditions on which our nation was founded,” said tweeted elected Democrat Yvette Clarke.
On March 30, days after a shooting at a Christian school in Nashville, Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson joined hundreds of protesters inside the Houses of Parliament to demand stricter gun control.
The protesters had entered the Capitol of Tennessee to challenge the elected officials gathered in session.
MM. Jones and Pearson had notably used a megaphone to invite protesters to shout slogans such as “Power to the people” and “No peace without action”, according to several media.
On Thursday, their Republican colleagues sanctioned them.
“Yesterday felt like we were in the middle of a Jim Crow-era trial,” Jesse Chism, vice-chairman of the black parliamentary group in the assembly, said at a Friday press conference. of Tennessee, in reference to the segregationist laws in force for some until the middle of the 20th century.
Politician Gloria Johnson, who narrowly escaped expulsion, said her motives were clear.
“I’m a 60-year-old white woman and they are two young black men,” she said.
Justin Jones and Justin Pearson delivered impassioned pleas against their exclusion, which earned them praise on social media, where a photo of them raising their fists went viral.
It’s “a dangerous precedent for the nation,” Justin Jones told MSNBC.
“If you hadn’t told me this was happening to me, I would have thought it was 1963, not 2023. Because what we’re seeing is a super- predominantly white majority that is unraveling democracy,” he added, saying the Justice Department needed to look at the terms of the exclusion.