Vice President Harris is making a previously unscheduled stop in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday to meet with two state lawmakers who were expelled from the Tennessee House for leading gun violence protests in the wake of a local school shooting, a spokesperson confirmed.
Harris will meet with state Reps. Justin Jones (D) and Justin Pearson (D), who on Thursday were expelled from the legislature for their participation in the recent demonstrations on the House floor. Rep. Gloria Johnson (D), who also participated in the protests and is white, narrowly survived her expulsion vote.
The vice president will use the meeting to elevate the White House’s broader push for tougher gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons. She is expected to meet with other Tennessee state lawmakers while in Nashville, as well as demonstrators who have in recent days continued to call for action on gun violence.
President Biden has renewed his calls for such a ban in the aftermath of a shooting at a Nashville grade school that left three 9-year-olds and three teachers dead.
Jones, Johnson and Pearson led chants on the House floor last week in the aftermath of the shooting, chanting “No action, no peace.” Resolutions to expel them state that they engaged in “disorderly behavior” and “did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives.”
The expulsion of Jones and Pearson, both of whom are Black, has fueled a nationwide debate in recent days over gun violence, race and the freedom to protest. The White House called the expulsion votes “undemocratic.”
“Six people, including three children, were killed last week in a school shooting in Nashville,” Harris tweeted Thursday night. “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.”
Harris’s visit to Nashville was first reported by USA Today.