Justin J. Pearson, one of two black Democratic lawmakers expelled by the GOP-led Tennessee House last week, said Tuesday that the same Republicans were threatening to withhold more than $300 million from the Memphis-area district that ‘it represents.
On Monday, Justin Jones, the other member of the “Tennessee Three” who was ousted on April 6 for speaking out against gun violence following the March shooting at a private school in Nashville, was unanimously re-elected by the Nashville Metro Council and will therefore be his own “interim” replacement.
Speaking to Politico reporter Jackie Padilla, Pearson said: “Hopefully I get reinstated tomorrow. The truth is, state lawmakers and people in the governor’s office, I’m told, are threatening to withhold over $300 million in funding to Shelby County in Memphis if I’m reinstated.
Pearson continued, “But the voices of the people are clear. They want, and deserve to have, the restoration of representation. Their representation in District 86 was taken away from them because their representatives stood up and spoke for six people in Nashville who will never have the chance to speak again because they were killed by gun violence…Because that we decided to talk about, they [GOP members] said their response was not to do something about gun violence, not to pass an assault weapons ban, not to have red flag laws, not to have stockpiling laws guns, but to expel the voices that defend these things.
TheWrap has reached out to the Republican Party of Tennessee to comment on Pearson’s comments.
Democratic Representative Gloria Johnson, who is white, joined her two younger colleagues for the protest and continues to support them. She narrowly survived a vote to deport her.
President Joe Biden is among those who have condemned the deportation. He called it “shocking, undemocratic and unprecedented”. He met virtually with Jones, Pearson and Johnson on Friday.
Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Tennessee to meet with the three Democrats on Saturday. She gave a speech at Fisk University in Nashville, in which she said: ‘A democracy says you don’t silence people, you don’t suffocate people, you don’t turn off their microphones when they speak. . These leaders had to obtain a megaphone to be heard.