Kamala Harris is racing to Nashville on Friday to support two Black Democrats who were expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives Thursday for taking over the House floor in a gun control protest on March 30. Harris did not visit Nashville last week when a massacre of six Christian students and adults at a Christian school by a woman who had adopted a male transgender identity took place on March 27. (Jill Brandon dropped in on Nashville for a candlelight vigil on March 29.)
The trip to Nashville was not on Harris’ Friday schedule that was released Thursday night.
Harris’ press secretary Kirsten Allen posted Friday afternoon about the surprise visit, “NEW >> Today, @VP will travel to Nashville, TN. There she will meet with state lawmakers as well as young leaders who continue to demand action on common sense gun reform.”
NEW >> Today, @VP will travel to Nashville, TN. There she will meet with state lawmakers as well as young leaders who continue to demand action on common sense gun reform.https://t.co/kMeaAAF1UI
— Kirsten Allen (@KirstenAllen46) April 7, 2023
Earlier Friday morning Harris posted a statement on the expulsions, “Six people, including three children, were killed last week in a school shooting in Nashville. How did Republican lawmakers in Tennessee respond? By expelling their colleagues who stood with Tennesseans and said enough is enough. This is undemocratic and dangerous.”
Six people, including three children, were killed last week in a school shooting in Nashville.
How did Republican lawmakers in Tennessee respond?
By expelling their colleagues who stood with Tennesseans and said enough is enough.
This is undemocratic and dangerous.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) April 7, 2023
USA Today broke the story of Harris’ Nashville trip (excerpt):
Vice President Kamala Harris plans to visit Nashville Friday to push for gun control and meet with two Tennessee Democratic lawmakers who were expelled from the General Assembly after protesting for gun reform on the floor of the statehouse.
The hastily scheduled trip comes after Tennessee House Republicans voted Thursday to expel Reps. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, on a 72-25 vote, and Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, 69-26, in moves that drew condemnation from President Brandon and became a national flashpoint on gun control and race.
The two Black lawmakers – and a third Democrat, Rep. Gloria Johnson D-Knoxville – were punished by Republicans for leading protests with bullhorns from the House floor after a mass shooting at a Nashville private Christian school killed six people. Johnson, who is white, dodged an expulsion by one vote.
…A White House official confirmed the trip, saying Harris is going to Nashville to lift “the voices” of thousands of young votes who have led massive demonstrations at the Tennessee state Capitol to change gun laws but haven’t swayed the state’s Republican majority.
Harris, who is expected to arrive Friday afternoon, will also renew Brandon’s call for Congress to pass a nationwide ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Brandon released a statement Thursday on the expulsions:
Last week, three more students and three school officials were gunned down in yet another tragic mass shooting in Nashville. On Monday, 7,000 Tennesseans, many of them students, marched to their state capitol to call on their lawmakers to take action and keep them safe.
Instead, state Republican lawmakers called votes today to expel three Democratic legislators who stood in solidarity with students and families and helped lift their voices. Today’s expulsion of lawmakers who engaged in peaceful protest is shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent. Rather than debating the merits of the issue, these Republican lawmakers have chosen to punish, silence, and expel duly-elected representatives of the people of Tennessee.
A strong majority of Americans want lawmakers to act on commonsense gun safety reforms that we know will save lives. But instead, we’ve continued to see Republican officials across America double down on dangerous bills that make our schools, places of worship, and communities less safe. Our kids continue to pay the price.
Congress must ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, require safe storage of firearms, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and require background checks for all gun sales, and state officials must do the same.
Justin Jones claimed he was being treated as an “uppity negro” by Republicans.
Whoa, just watch this entire exchange pic.twitter.com/mc6aYbLjmT
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) April 6, 2023
Justin Pearson compared the expulsion proceeding to a lynching.
Justin Pearson is a powerful orator pic.twitter.com/jKkgZJ8KHI
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 7, 2023
The Tennessean reported on the takeover of the House floor last week that led to the expulsions (excerpt):
As members of the House of Representatives debated an education bill, three House Democrats approached the podium, called the “well,” without being recognized to speak — breaching the chamber’s rules of procedure.
With a bullhorn, Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, and Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, led protestors in the galleries in several chants calling for gun reform.
(House Speaker) Cameron Sexton (R) immediately recessed the chamber, halting legislative business for nearly an hour before it resumed, and ordered security to clear the House galleries.
There are no announced plans for Harris to visit the families of the victims of the Covenant School massacre.
Sunday Morning Passage
We remember the six victims, including three children, of the mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville. https://t.co/V9FyRQaGZd pic.twitter.com/aJfD37gMkp
— CBS Sunday Morning 🌞 (@CBSSunday) April 2, 2023