Politics /

Tennessee State Representative Attempts To Carry Small Casket Into Capitol

Justin Jones Was Previously Expelled And Subsequently Reinstated After Leading A Disruptive Protest On The State House Floor

Tennessee lawmaker Justin Jones was turned away from entering the State House floor on Monday after attempting to enter the chamber with a small casket.

Jones, who was previously expelled after leading a disruptive protest on the floor of the Tennessee House following last month’s shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, entered the State Capitol carrying a the casket to symbolically represent the three children killed in the shooting.

The Nashville Metropolitan Council unanimously voted to reinstate Jones on Apr. 10 after suspending its regular rules, which would have required a month-long nomination process.

“You can walk with me but …” Jones said, gesturing towards the casket in his hands, “we have a right to bring this in.”

“I’m bringing this in as a representative of my district. 78,000 who sent me here,” Jones continued as he walked down the State Capitol hallway surrounded by sheriffs and reporters claiming no lawmakers were told what they could bring into the building. “I’m a representative in this building.”

The Tennessee lawmaker continued walking down the hallway though stopped to address authorities preventing him from entering the elevator.

“I have to go vote, you cannot hold this elevator,” Jones tells an off-camera sargeant. “You have to let us go up there, this is against the state Constitution.”

“Please do not obstruct us from going up to do the people’s business,” he continued as sheriffs blocked the elevator entrance.

The Tennessee lawmaker informed authorities he had his badge and requested they contact the sergeant-at-arms, insisting “we are coming to the House floor.”

Fellow Tennessee representative Justin Pearson, who was also expelled and reinstated for leading the disruptive protest, also carried a casket into the State Capitol.

“I want to welcome democracy back to the people’s house,” said Jones during his speech from the House floor following his reinstatement, per NBC News. “I want to thank you all, not for what you did, but for awakening the people of this state, particularly the young people. Thank you for reminding us that the struggle for justice is fought and won in every generation.”

Jones, a native Californian, was previously banned from the State Capitol after performing similar political stunts in protest.

Prior to serving as a representative, Jones was arrested in 2019 for assaulting House Speaker Glen Casada protesting the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Jones reportedly threw a cup of coffee into an elevator hitting Casada and Representative Debra Moody.

“I pray that the violence of racism will produce similar outrage in the TN Capitol as a few drops of iced tea in a paper cup,” Jones tweeted after the incident.

In April 2017, Jones was arrested after staging a sit-in at the Capitol in support of Medicaid expansion.

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