‘Don’t silence the people’: VP Harris speaks at rally for ‘The Tennessee Three’

Mayor John Cooper introduced Vice President Kamala Harris at Fisk University’s Memorial Chapel Friday afternoon.
WSMV's Danielle Jackson reports.
Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 12:33 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2023 at 9:24 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Vice President Kamala Harris spoke Friday at Fisk University to show support for the Tennessee lawmakers removed from the House after protesting for stricter gun laws following the Covenant School mass shooting.

Harris met with the lawmakers, known as the “Tennessee Three,” before her speech at the rally held at Fisk.

Vice President Harris arrives in Nashville to meet with "Tennessee Three"

“The children should be able to live and be safe and go to school and not be in fear,” she said. “A democracy says you don’t silence the people. You do not stifle the people. You don’t turn off their microphones when they are speaking. You don’t turn off their mic when they are talking about the importance of life and liberty.”

Harris repeatedly defended the lawmakers, Rep. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, for advocating for children’s safety.

“Let’s understand the underlying issue is about fighting for the safety of our children,” Harris said. “It’s been years now where they are taught to read and write and hide in a closet and be quiet if there’s a mass shooter at their school, where our children, who have God’s capacity to learn and lead, who go to school in fear.”

At the rally, she called for stricter background checks and more restrictions on assault rifles.

“Let’s not fall for the false choice — either you’re in favor of the Second Amendment or you want reasonable gun safety laws,” Harris said. “We can and should do both.”

The rally at Fisk included city and community leaders showing support for the three lawmakers. Mayor John Cooper introduced Harris to the stage.

President Joe Biden also shared his thoughts of the expulsion vote on Twitter. “The expulsion of lawmakers who engaged in peaceful protest is shocking, undemocratic, and unprecedented,” part of the tweet said.

Biden spoke with the lawmakers Friday and thanked them for their leadership in seeking to ban assault weapons and standing up for democratic values. The officials “thanked the President for his leadership on gun safety and for spotlighting the undemocratic and unprecedented attacks on them this week in the Tennessee statehouse,” according to a statement from the White House. Biden invited the three leaders to the White House in the near future.

President Joe Biden speaks with "The Tennessee Three."
President Joe Biden speaks with "The Tennessee Three."(President Joe Biden/Instagram)

The Tennessee GOP released the following statement in regard to the expulsion vote: “Nashville Tennessee House Republicans decided to uphold the rule of law and remove 2 Democrat State Representatives that disrupted and protested the legislative process on March 30th, 2023. Their adolescence and immature behavior brought dishonor to the Tennessee General Assembly as they admitted to knowingly breaking the rules. Actions have consequences, and we applaud House Republicans for having the conviction to protect the rules, the laws, and the prestige of the State of Tennessee.”