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TN Speaker, Who Refused to Remove Republican Accused of Child Sexual Abuse, Moves to Expel Three Dems Over Gun Violence Protest



Tennessee ‘s Republican Speaker of the House, Cameron Sexton, has scheduled a vote for Thursday to expel three Democratic Representatives who last week supported hundreds of people inside and outside the state Capitol protesting gun violence in the wake of the Nashville Christian elementary school mass shooting.

Speaker Sexton’s tenure has become a focus on social media, with references to his refusal to expel a Republican state representative, David Byrd, who, beginning in 2018, had been accused of child sexual assault years earlier, when he was a high school basketball coach in the 1980s.

One AP reporter responding to a Politico reporter Monday night observed on Twitter, “I’m reminded of the many Republican lawmakers who told me and other reporters in 2019 that they felt uncomfortable expelling Byrd because he had just been elected and they didn’t want to go against the will of the voters….”

One of the Democrats Speaker Sexton is now trying to expel, as Mother Jones reported in 2019, had been “leading efforts to oust” from office that accused GOP lawmaker, Rep. Byrd.

That Democrat is Rep. Gloria Johnson.

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On Monday, Speaker Sexton stripped the three Democrats who protested of all their committee assignments, Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson, in retribution for their role in supporting the protestors:

Also Monday, Rep. Johnson posted a photo of the expulsion resolution.

Speaker Sexton has vowed to take action against all three, after calling all the protestors last week “maybe even worse” than the January 6 insurrectionists. He later claimed he was referring to only the three Democrats.

Monday evening, Rep. Pearson, facing expulsion, told local Fox affiliate reporter Kayla Solomon that Speaker Sexton’s move is a “silencing of the minority.”

“Two young Black lawmakers, one of only two women Democratic lawmakers in the state of Tennessee, are right now being politically lynched by the white super-majority Republican legislature,” Rep. Pearson said.

There was not just one protest. Since last week’s massacre at The Coventry School, a private Presbyterian elementary school in Nashville where three nine-year olds and three adults were slaughtered by a shooter with two AR-15 style assault rifles and a handgun, unloading 152 rounds before police were able to subdue them, Tennessee residents from across the state have been protesting gun violence, especially school shootings – and Republican state lawmakers’ absolute refusal to address it.

In its 2019 report on the allegations against GOP Rep. David Byrd, Mother Jones’ revealed he had “quietly told his Republican colleagues in the state House that he would not seek reelection.”

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Byrd, amid the allegations that surfaced in 2018, won re-election that year. Despite telling his colleagues and the GOP governor in 2019 he would not seek re-election again, he did so, and won in 2020. He did not run for re-election in 2022.

Two of his accusers spoke with Mother Jones, describing what they say were Byrd’s actions, which included these passages:

“Honestly, I don’t remember the very first time he touched me,” one accuser, now an adult, told Mother Jones. “It was more that he talked about it: He wanted to see me naked, he told me he spent more hours with me in a day than he did his wife, that when he had sex with her he was thinking about me.”


“The next thing I know, he’s got me over on the side of the [swimming] pool, and he’s telling me he wants me to reach down and touch him between his legs because he wants me to feel how I make him feel—he kept telling me how it’s throbbing,” a second accuser told Mother Jones. “I was like, ‘No, no, no.’ I just remember screaming, ‘No,’ and getting out of that pool.”

Despite the allegations, upon becoming Speaker, Sexton was adamant about not moving to expel Rep. Byrd, going as far as saying almost nothing short of “a conviction or indictment for criminal activity,” as WPLN described his remarks, would warrant expulsion.

“When you look at it, his voters made that determination to send him back up here based on the information they were given back in the campaign,” Sexton told WPLN in 2019. “So, when you look at that, you have to balance the will of the voters and overturning the will of the voters based on having that information before them over something — over an allegation that was made from 30 years ago.”

Speaker Sexton’s remarks on Monday focused on the three Democrats violating House “decorum.”

He said, via Twitter, their “actions are and will always be unacceptable, and they break several rules of decorum and procedure on the House floor.”

Meanwhile, House Republicans aren’t being shy about their apparent fury at the trio.

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Monday evening, Tennesseans again protested Republicans’ staunch refusal to address the gun part of gun violence in schools. (One unverified list says Nashville has had five school shootings since 2015, and the entire state of Tennessee has had 20 since 2005.)

One of the Democrats who may be expelled this week by Speaker Sexton accused a Republican of pushing him on the House floor and grabbing his phone. He posted video.

Watch the videos and read the tweets above or at this link.


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