Republican legislators in Tennessee have begun the process of expelling three Democratic colleagues from the conservative-controlled house over their support for a gun control protest at the state capitol days after a deadly school shooting in Nashville.
On Thursday, hundreds gathered at the capitol to protest against the absence of gun control measures after three nine-year-old students and three staff members were killed at the Covenant school last week, according to a report in the Tennessean.
Using a bullhorn, state representatives Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson approached the house podium without being recognized and cheered the protesters on.
Jones and Pearson are each in their first year as representatives, while Johnson has been in office since 2019.
House Republicans introduced three resolutions to expel the Democratic trio at the end of Monday’s session, four days after the protest. The chamber’s leadership also compared the gun control protest to an “insurrection”.
Expelling a house member is an extremely rare occurrence, with only two of the chamber’s members removed since the civil war.
The three have already been stripped of their committee assignments as more sanctions are expected, according to the Tennessee house speaker, Cameron Sexton.
Several representatives also referred to Jones as a “former representative” during Monday’s session, the Associated Press reported.
The trio is being accused of “knowingly and intentionally [bringing] disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions”, according to the filed resolutions.
Tensions flared during Monday’s session as supporters in the gallery booed and jeered at the introduced resolutions.
At one point, Sexton ordered state troopers to remove supporters.
House members also got into a confrontation on the chamber floor. Jones accused representative Justin Lafferty of pushing him and grabbing his phone.