Nashville Rep. Justin Jones was silenced on the Tennessee House floor after he was ruled out of order on Monday.
The House voted that he was speaking “off the bill,” which put him out of order for a second time, and — per the new rules in place for the special session — meant he would not be recognized to speak on the chamber floor for the rest of the day.
Onlookers in the gallery were furious, chanting ‘Fascists!’ and ‘Racists!’ at the lawmakers below. They continued to chant, as state troopers escorted them out into the hallways.
It took nearly 10 minutes to clear the gallery, but then, spectators chanted from outside — loud enough to be heard from the House floor, where lawmakers attempted to continue hearing bills.
Rep. Jones joined the crowd in the hallway, where he condemned the House’s decision.
“Their attempt to silence me was not about me, but about the people of my district. And if they can silence one member, they can silence all of us,” he said.
Jones was speaking against a bill about school resource officers when he was ruled “out of order” a second time.
That bill, HB 7023, would allow law enforcement agencies to assign an officer to serve as a school resource officer — even if they have not trained as an SRO — at schools in counties, like Davidson, that do not have a memorandum of understanding with a law enforcement agency.
“I was silenced for talking about the need in my county, Davidson County, for mental health professionals and counselors, not more police in schools,” said Jones.
Jones encouraged demonstrators to return to the Capitol Tuesday, as the special session continues.