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Michigan Democratics, Legislative Black Caucus disheartened by TN expulsion vote

Democratic Senator Erika Geiss is a sponsor of legislation to repeal Michigan’s dormant 1931 abortion ban. She said it’s important to get what she calls the “zombie law” off the books.
Rick Pluta
Michigan Public Radio Network
Democratic Senator Erika Geiss.

Michigan Democrats are sharing their frustration at the removal of two Black Tennessee lawmakers from office this week.

The Tennessee Democrats, Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson, were officially expelled for breaking decorum when they used a bullhorn alongside gun control protestors in their House chamber.

As reported by Gongwer News Service, 22 Michigan Democrats signed a public letter opposing their dismissal this week.

“There is nothing ‘disorderly’ about courageously standing in solidarity with the people we are elected to serve, in opposition to the gun lobby that continues to profiteer off of an epidemic they have fueled,” the letter reads.

Now, members of Michigan’s Legislative Black Caucus are also sharing their own reaction.

Caucus chair Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) said lawmakers outside of Tennessee need to stand in solidarity.

“We’ve got to remember … what their protest was. They were there standing with people, residents of their state, of their districts, and from other districts who were there to protest gun violence,” Geiss said Friday.

A third Democratic Tennessee Representative, Gloria Johnson, also faced an expulsion vote Thursday. But she narrowly survived.

Johnson is a white woman.

Geiss said Jones and Pearson’s expulsion was evidence of an “insidious” type of racism. She compared the removal to the silencing of Black voices.

“Not only were the lawmakers silenced, their residents were silenced, so the people that sent them there, their voices were removed. And their ... expulsion disenfranchised all of the people of their districts,” Geiss said.

Despite their removal, there is still a chance both Jones and Pearson could rejoin the chamber.

In Pearson’s district in Memphis, a special meeting could re-appoint him as an interim representative until a special election.

A similar situation could reportedly play out in Jones’ Nashville district.