By Ashley Shelton
In response to the Tennessee Legislature’s continued lack of principled action, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and our partners stand with the Tennessee 3 following the recent expulsion of two Black leaders for fighting for gun reform in the face of gun violence in their community. We celebrate and support Representative Jones, Representative Pearson, and Representative Johnson who stood with the community to protest gun violence just to find themselves under attack by their own colleagues.
We applaud the Nashville Metropolitan Council for doing the right thing and reinstating Representative Jones! It is unsettling to see tactics like this used to trample upon our right to free speech and to speak out against the injustices happening in our communities. We are seeing more attacks that seek to usurp and preempt the power of majority African American cities and the leaders they elected from Jackson, Mississippi to Washington D.C.
It is an unfortunate and frustrating contradiction that our Second Amendment right to bear arms is sacred and untouchable but our First Amendment right to free speech and protest is being criminalized or being met with police violence. Nonviolent acts of protest are met with more action than addressing the growing number of mass shootings. There is something wrong with this picture that criminalizes people having their voices heard but not assault weapons that needlessly take lives from our schools, churches and workplaces nationwide.
As the fight for equity and justice continues there will be more fights like this and we must take a stand. There is power in our voices and we must continue to fight for what is right and to have our voices heard. We support and stand with our friends and partners Civic Tennessee and Memphis Artists for Change who are working to ensure community voices can be heard. If you would like to support organizing on the ground in Tennessee please donate and support them.