Minnesota Senate POCI Caucus Voices Support for Tennessee Lawmakers Expelled After Gun Reform Protest

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Thursday, April 6, Tennessee’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to expel two Black lawmakers, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson—just failing to oust a third representative, Gloria Johnson, by one vote—a week after the three Democrats led a gun reform protest in the chamber. This follows yet another mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville that left three 9-year-olds and three adults dead.

The Minnesota State Senate POCI (People of Color Indigenous) Caucus stands in firm solidarity with these three Tennessee lawmakers and call for the reinstatement of Representatives Jones and Pearson. Under this expulsion, 148,000 Tennesseans are left with no representation, a situation that is absolutely unconscionable.

Firearms are now the leading cause of death for children and teens (ages 1 to 19) in the United States. Every year, 19,000 children and teens are shot and killed or wounded and approximately 3 million are exposed to gun violence.  There is no doubt that our children and teens are hugely impacted by gun violence in all its forms, affecting their psychological and mental well-being. When homes, neighborhoods, and schools are not safe from gun violence, entire generations of American children are affected.

“Tennessee House Bill 322 requiring minimum efforts to ensure school safety seems more like creating prison-like academic environments and this is not the answer for Tennessee and it’s not the answer for Minnesota. The real issue is how to prevent people access to assault rifles that results in mass killings,” stated POCI Caucus Chair Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton).

“It is unjust and egregious to expel Representatives Jones and Pearson for breaking decorum rules to speak for gun reform and call for legislative action,” said Senator Susan Pha (DFL-Brooklyn Park). 

Minnesota DFL members have called for even the most basic gun reform legislation for close to a decade, only to be blocked by the GOP, strongly influenced by the gun industry.

Right now, we are witnessing courageous state lawmakers who are standing with their constituents to defend our nation’s democracy, ensuring the outcome of the popular vote, and the freedom to speak their truth. We join other state legislators who reject Tennessee’s efforts to strip these lawmakers from their duly elected positions, undermining the people’s will, and the direct threat to our democracy everywhere.

The members of the Senate POCI Caucus are Senator Mary Kunesh (Chair), Senator Bobby Joe Champion, Senator Omar Fateh, Senator Foung Hawj, Senator Alice Mann, Senator Erin Maye Quade, Senator Zaynab Mohamed, Senator Clare Oumou Verbeten, Senator Susan Pha, and Senator Tou Xiong.

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Mary K. Kunesh represents Senate District 39, which covers the communities of St. Anthony Village, New Brighton, Hilltop, Columbia Heights, Fridley, and a portion of Spring Lake Park.

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Senator Bobby Joe Champion
Senate President Senate District 59
Bobby Joe Champion represents District 59, which includes portions of downtown and north Minneapolis in Hennepin County. He is also an attorney.

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Senate President Senate District 62
Omar Fateh represents Senate District 62, which covers the community of South Minneapolis.

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Senator Foung Hawj
Senate President Senate District 67
Foung Hawj represents District 67, which includes the east side of Saint Paul in Ramsey County in the central Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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Senate President Senate District 50
Senator Alice Man represents Senate District 50 which includes Bloomington and Edina. She is vice chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, and serves on the Education Policy Committee and the Human Services Committee.

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Senate President Senate District 56
Senator Erin Maye Quade represents Senate District 56 which includes Apple Valley, Eagan, and Rosemount. She is vice chair of the Education Policy Committee, and serves on the Education Finance Committee, Human Services Committee, and the State and Local Government and Veterans Committee.
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Senate President Senate District 63
Senator Zaynab Mohamed represents Senate District 63 which includes Minneapolis. She is vice chair of the Jobs and Economic Development Committee, and serves on the Capital Investment Committee, Finance Committee, and the Housing and Homelessness Prevention Committee.
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Assistant Leader Senate District 66
Senator Clare Oumou Verbeten represents Senate District 66 which includes Falcon Height, Lauderdale, Roseville, and St. Paul. She is vice chair of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, and serves on the Education Finance Committee, Higher Education Committee, and the Labor Committee.

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Assistant Leader Senate District 38
Senator Susan Pha represents Senate District 38 which includes Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, and Osseo. She is vice chair of the Capital Investment Committee and also serves on the Housing and Homelessness Prevention Committee.

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Assistant Leader Senate District 44
Senator Tou Xiong represents Senate District 44 which includes Little Canada, Maplewood, North Saint Paul, and Oakdale. He is vice chair of the Energy, Utilities, Environment, and Climate Committee and serves on the Capital Investment Committee and the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.
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