UnidosUS Action Fund Condemns the Expulsion of Justin Johnson and Justin Pearson from Tennessee State Legislature
April 7, 2023
Washington, D.C. - UnidosUS Action Fund is deeply troubled by the recent expulsion of Justin Johnson and Justin Pearson from the Tennessee State Legislature because they had the audacity to simply speak out on the urgent need to address the gun violence crisis. This discriminatory and vindictive act is a blatant attempt to silence voices of color and suppress the important work they are doing to promote racial justice and equality.
This shameful incident takes place in aftermath of the tragic mass shooting that occurred in Nashville last week at a private school that killed six people, including three children. The Republican controlled legislature’s vote to not expel State Representative Gloria Johnson, who is white, highlights the racial undertones of this attack on our democratic values.
This issue is deeply personal for the UnidosUS Action Fund family. Tennessee is home to a vibrant Latino community, including UnidosUS Action Fund Board Chairwoman Renata Soto. “As a Tennessean and civil rights activist, I am appalled by today’s behavior by the Tennessee House of Representatives. Tennessee and this country are in the midst of a gun violence epidemic that requires serious leadership willing to take bold action to protect our children. This political stunt only undermines the progress we can make if we work together to address these serious problems,” said UnidosUS Action Fund Chair Renata Soto.
Johnson and Pearson, both African American leaders in their communities, have been powerful advocates for social justice in Tennessee. Their work has been integral to promoting equal access to voting, education, and healthcare in the state. However, they have faced ongoing attacks from Republican lawmakers who are threatened by their voices and the positive change they are creating in their communities.
“This kind of unjust and discriminatory behavior has no place in our democracy. It is a clear violation of the fundamental rights of all individuals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or political beliefs,” said UnidosUS Action Fund Executive Director Rafael Collazo. “UnidosUS Action Fund stands in solidarity with the Tennessee 3, and all advocates who are working to create a more just and equitable society.”
UnidosUS Action Fund calls on all elected officials to prioritize the needs of their constituents over partisan politics and to work towards creating a more equitable society for all. As an organization committed to leaders in Tennessee that serious about addressing gun violence and will continue to support Representatives Pearson, Jones and Johnson’s advocacy.
“The Latino community is all too familiar with the impact of gun violence on our communities. We stand with the people of Nashville, Uvalde and all communities impacted by this crisis,” said Collazo.