In The Well today

Text of a speech given by Rep. Justin Pearson in the Tennessee State House, April 6, 2023.

[Note: Representative Pearson participated in a protest in the Tennessee State House following the killing of six people at the Covenant School by a shooter. Representative Pearson, along with Representative Justin Jones were expelled from the Tennessee General Assembly for their participation in the protest, which was deemed in violation of the House Decorum Rules. In the proceedings concerning his expulsion, Representative Pearson delivered the following remarks.]

I believe I’m in the well today because you have put forward a resolution that says that it’s more important to expel voices of dissent than to do the work of justice which is fighting to end gun violence in the state of Tennessee. I believe I’m in the well today because I, with the courage of ancestors and family and loved ones and communities, stood up and spoke up for folks like my classmate Larry Thorn who can speak no more because of the proliferation of guns in Tennessee. I believe that I’m in the well today because you have decided that it is not right to have debate, it is not right to listen to the voices of the minority. I believe I’m in the well today because, on the day that we wanted to honor the thousands of people who protested, we were denied that opportunity. I believe that I’m here because you feel in your heart that it is right to persecute someone who has committed no crime, who has only broken what you call the House Decorum Rules which according to Section 19 of the House Permanent Rules of Order say that at worse the thing that should happen is censure, but instead you have brought forward a terrible resolution to deprive and disenfranchise thousands of people in Shelby County of a representative who will and can speak and advocate for them…

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