- Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock has strongly criticized the decision by Tennessee Republicans to expel two black Democratic lawmakers from the State House.
- Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled on Thursday after taking turns speaking in support of a youth-led protest for gun control following the deadly school shooting in Nashville.
- Warnock said in an interview Friday that Republicans in Tennessee “have convinced themselves that the people’s house is their home.”
Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock has strongly criticized the decision by Tennessee Republicans to expel two black Democratic lawmakers from the State House.
Warnock, the junior senator from Georgia, told MSNBC in an interview on Friday that those who voted to deport “convinced themselves that the House of the People is their home” and seemed to link the decision to racism.
His comments come after Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were both kicked from duty in the GOP-controlled chamber on Thursday — a week after taking turns speaking in support of a youth-led protest for the gun control, which took place following the recent murder shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville.
Pearson, Jones and Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson violated decorum in the chamber by taking turns speaking in support of the protest. An effort to evict Johnson, who is white, failed by one vote
Warnock noted that the reason for the protest was the deadly school shooting, which left six people dead, including three children.
“And as a result of that, American citizens rose up in protest and called on their lawmakers to respond,” the senator said. “And rather than the legislature reacting to the violence, they decided to silence members of their own body who were protesting nonviolently in response to the violence that started all of this in the first place.
“We should all be deeply concerned, even though we have differences of opinion on the issue of gun safety and the best way forward,” he said. “It’s, on the face of it, undemocratic, un-American, unacceptable and I think ultimately people will find their voices back in their homes.”
Warnock also brought up racism during the interview. Republican lawmakers in Tennessee have been accused of being racially motivated following the expulsion of Representatives Jones and Pearson.
“Unfortunately, we are living in a time in our country where, at least in some parts of our politics and in some parts of our country, there are those who believe that racism is not only acceptable, it is fashionable” , Warnock said on Friday.
Rep. Jones told reporters that being spared deportation when her black colleagues were not “may have to do with the color of our skin.”
Discussing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Warnock said part of what King did was to make racism “unpopular and socially unacceptable”.
“But we have seen over the past six years the re-emergence of a kind of shameless, unabashed fanaticism which should be deeply shocking to the conscience of anyone who believes in what is right, who believes in what is true and we not only see in this Tennessee legislature, but we see it in other places as well,” the senator said.
Warnock went on to say that the Tennessee house was “deeply gerrymandered” and said Republicans “convinced themselves that the people’s house is their house and so they effectively kicked people out of their own house.”
“They didn’t just kick those lawmakers out. They kicked the people out of their districts out of their own homes. And I think people see that. our whole country – and people are coming back to get their democracy,” Warnock added.
Warnock continued, “Thank goodness for these young legislators. We must stand with them and continue to bend this bow toward justice and closer to our ideals. If we can’t save our own children, what do we do?
“We need to stand up right now, protect them and protect democracy at the same time,” the Democrat said.
Newsweek emailed Tennessee Republican Party political director Tyler Burns for comment.