Gun control: Gregg Popovich criticises Republicans on ousting Tennessee Three

Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs yells to his players during the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on February 13, 2023, in Cleveland, Ohio. — AFP
Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs yells to his players during the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on February 13, 2023, in Cleveland, Ohio. — AFP

Gregg Popovich, president and head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, has criticised the Republican party in Tennessee which voted to expel two of the Democrat lawmakers last week, The Hill reported on Sunday.

The three lawmakers — also known as Tennessee Three — were expelled because they led the protest seeking gun control reforms after the deadly school shooting in Nashville.

The shooting claimed at least six lives including three nine-year-old children last month.

Popovich, while speaking to the reporters ahead of a game, while pointing towards the Republican-party lawmakers: “Well since you asked, what would it take to budge those people? What would it take?”

“I mean, we’ve got two young Black guys in Tennessee who just got railroaded by a bunch of people that I would bet down deep in their soul want to go back to Jim Crow.”

During the vote, resolutions were put forth in the Republican-dominated Tennessee House of Representatives. Three lawmakers Representative Justin Jones and Rep Justin Pearson who were non-whites were ousted by vote. However, the third Gloria Johnson — white — survived the vote.

The vote conducted on the violation of the rules for Jones split along party lines 72-25 whereas, in Pearson’s case it was 69-26. Johnson got votes 65-30.

According to the procedure, both lawmakers can regain their seats after reappointment from the local governments through votes and then special elections on the vacant seats.

“And what they just did is a good start. It’s beyond comprehension. And what were they guilty of? They actually protested?”

“Those [Tennessee Republican] legislators called those kids that were protesting insurrectionists. That’s hard to believe in America. But America [isn’t] what we thought America was. It’s changed,” he noted.

“So if those kids are insurrectionists, what were the people on January 6th? What do we call them? What’s the next step or word or level of violence after insurrectionists? I don’t know what it is. What will it take?”

Popovich while criticising Senator Marsha Blackburn and state Governor Bob Lee for their remarks on the brutal Nashville shooting said, “I mean, I couldn’t believe it, so I wrote this thing down, but Senator Marsha Blackburn, her comment after was, after the massacre, ‘My office is in contact with federal, state and local officials and we stand ready to assist’.”

He shouted: “[Assist] In what?! They’re dead! What are you going to assist with — cleaning up their brains off the wall, wiping the blood off the schoolroom floor? What are you going to assist with?”

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had also criticised the move to expel the lawmakers.

Taking to Twitter, Joe Biden wrote that “Three kids and three officials gunned down in yet another mass shooting. And what are GOP officials focused on? Punishing lawmakers who joined thousands of peaceful protesters calling for action. It’s shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent.”

Kamala Harris went to Tennessee to visit Tennessee Three and appreciated them for their efforts.

(From centre to right) US Vice President Kamala Harris while talking to, Representative Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson and others in Nashville on April 8, 2023. — Twitter/VP
(From centre to right) US Vice President Kamala Harris while talking to, Representative Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson and others in Nashville on April 8, 2023. — Twitter/VP 

Nashville Mayor John Cooper had also reacted to the expulsion move on Thursday in a tweet that Jones and Pearson’s districts were “disenfranchised today.”

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