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NY Post
New York Post
8 Apr 2023

NextImg:Tennessee Republican denies Justin Jones, Justin Pearson expelled over race

Race wasn’t a factor in the Republican-controlled Tennessee House of Representatives’ decision to expel two black Democratic lawmakers – while sparing a white one – for disrupting deliberations in the chamber to lead a gun control protest, said a GOP state lawmaker.

In fact, Republican Rep. Brian Richey said, one of the legislators expelled “wanted to be kicked out.”


Tennessee’s House voted 72-25 Thursday to oust Rep. Justin Jones of Nashville, and 69-26 to oust Justin Pearson of Tennessee for their “disorderly behavior” on March 30 that forced the chamber into recess.

But members spared Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville in a 65-30 vote, just short of the two-thirds majority needed to remove her.

The trio came under fire for halting House proceedings with a demonstration calling for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Covenant School shooting that took the lives of three adults and three 9-year-old children on March 27.

Richey told CNN’s “The Lead” that he voted against expelling Pearson and Johnson, but voted to remove Jones, because Jones actually wanted to be kicked out of office.


He also shot down claims from the left that race was a factor in the House’s vote and that he was personally against expelling the pols — even though he felt they were out of line.

Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones (center, )and Justin Pearson arrive at Fisk University.

“What these three individuals did was completely horrible. It was a disrespect to our General Assembly, those members that have served before me, and that will serve in the future,” he said.

“Representative Jones’ office is right next door to mine,” he said. “I had multiple conversations with him this week letting him know that I wasn’t in favor. And essentially, he told me that he wanted to be kicked out because his following was growing… So, I was honoring his wishes and voting for him.”


When asked to respond to 60-year-old Johnson’s criticism that she was spared expulsion because she’s white while Jones, 27, and Pearson, 28, were punished, Richey shot back: “That’s political nonsense!”

Tennessee Rep. Brian Richey
Tennessee state Rep. Brian Richey said he voted against expelling Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson, but voted to remove Justin Jones claiming Jones actually wanted to be kicked out of office.

“If anything, it was two energetic, youthful males that were a little bit more animated while they were up there,” he said. “And Ms. Gloria Johnson, Rep. Johnson, she stood there when they played the video. It clearly showed her standing there not doing as much, and I think that swayed other members to not vote for her.

“And that’s why she’s still there, had nothing to do with the color of their skin. I respect all three of them and their constituents that voted for them. I felt that they should stay.”


Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Nashville on Friday in a show support for the expelled lawmakers, as national Democrats used the expulsions as a rallying cry for gun violence prevention measures and racial equality.

Tennessee state Rep. Brian Richey.
Richey called the question of race playing into the black members’ expulsions, “political nonsense.”

“The issue, which gets back to these three, is that we need leaders who have the courage to act at state houses and in Washington, D.C., in the United States Congress,” Harris told a gathering at Fisk University, a historically Black school. “Have the courage to act instead of the cowardice to not allow debate.”

With Post wires