Statement from AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond on the expulsion of Representatives Justin Jones and Justin J. Pearson from the Tennessee House of Representatives in retaliation to their act of protest in the state capitol:
The expulsion of state Representatives Justin Jones and Justin J. Pearson from the Tennessee House was an affront to democracy, our American values and a disturbing reminder of an all too familiar brand of oppression on display in our nation since Reconstruction.
Make no mistake, the move to expel these duly elected and sworn representatives – two Black men – by a majority white, right-wing legislature for taking part in the grand tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience, was an act with severe implications, motivated by the systemic racism that has plagued this nation for centuries.
It cannot be overlooked that, in the state where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, there was in the legislature, a vicious attempt to silence voices speaking on behalf of the constituents who elected them. The people of Tennessee deserve better.
We stand firmly with Reps. Jones and Pearson and praise their courage in the face of outrageous opposition and unjust retaliation. Reps. Jones and Pearson showed themselves to be champions of democracy and the very embodiment of Dr. King’s principles that peaceful protest is ‘not a departure from democracy, but absolutely essential to it,’ while Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton and the legislators who joined him in thwarting the will of the people, showed themselves to be its shameful opponents.
Contact: Ray Zaccaro, 202-637-5018