• Press Release

Youth Activists Pack the TN Capitol for Expulsion of 2/3 State Reps, Stage “Die-In” to Protest Expulsion and Demand Gun Safety Laws

After a historic walkout and rally planned by March For Our Lives on Monday at the Tennessee State Capitol with 7,000 students and Tennesseans, young people and activists returned this Thursday to demand that the State Legislature abandon its fascist attack on elected representatives and pass gun safety laws.

Nashville, TN — Today, March For Our Lives activists and our allies led a rally at the State Capitol to resist the expulsion of State Reps. Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson, for their principled and courageous solidarity with us earlier week. While these representatives demanded gun safety, State House leaders played political games and punted a vote on gun safety to next year, gambling with children’s lives. Let’s be abundantly clear: children will die from gun violence in the next year as a result of these political games.

March For Our Lives activists, students, and our allies packed the State Capitol today to show our leaders that we are watching them and will hold them accountable. We watched as they attacked their colleagues, ignored the immediate need for gun safety, and displayed their white supremacy as they easily expelled two Black lawmakers.

Following the expulsion of State Rep. Jones and Pearson, March For Our Lives and student activists staged a die-in at the Capitol’s rotunda. Dozens of students lay on the ground for 14 minutes, the length of time the shooter at The Covenant School was active, to protest the inaction on gun safety and the attack on democracy.

“It is already too late for our leaders to pass gun laws. Three children, three nine-year-olds, are dead in Tennessee because politicians want to play games,” said Brynn Jones, an organizer with March For Our Lives who helped lead the rally on Monday and Thursday, and a student at Vanderbilt University. “We can’t bring them back, but we can act now to prevent more children from dying. Instead, the Tennessee legislature is using political extremism and attacking our right to vote by stripping duly elected representatives of their seats. What does that say to young people about the state of our democracy? What does that say about our right to live? We’re outraged.”

The shooting at The Covenant School last week added to the ever-growing list of preventable gun violence in Tennessee that turned deadly. It’s no surprise that Tennessee is one of the nation’s deadliest states for gun deaths, as it has some of the loosest gun laws, a clear correlation that tracks across other states with loose laws and deadly consequences. Meanwhile, state lawmakers have taken on unpopular bills like banning books and drag shows rather than protecting their neighbors and constituents from being shot. To that, students and young people say: BS.

“Tennessee is in a state of emergency,” said Ezri Tyler, an organizer with March For Our Lives who helped lead the rally on Monday and Thursday, and a student at Vanderbilt University. “While children are being gunned down in our schools, politicians are trying to erode our democracy and control our lives. They want to ban books, drag queens, trans kids, Black history, and even ban our right to vote for our own representatives, but they won’t take up legislation that keeps us safe from gun safety. Shame on them.”

After the historic walkout this Monday and the die-in at the Capitol today following the egregious expulsion of duly elected representatives, March For Our Lives and young people made our stance clear: We cannot accept this as normal. We will continue to fight and organize for our lives and for our democracy. Our lives are at stake.