Chaos mars yet another Tennessee House session

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Chaos in Tennessee’s House…again.

“It is ridiculous and is an abhorrent overreach and abuse of power by Cameron Sexton and this Republican Party,” Rep. Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) said.

After every Republican and a handful of Democrats joined together to pass the budget Thursday, Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) came up to the dais for a procedural question. After some back-and-forth, Republican leadership alleged Jones called a staffer an offensive name.

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“Well, we can’t repeat that on TV, what he said,” Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said. “So you can take that for what you want.”

Jones said House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) threatened him on the House floor.

“He said, ‘Get out of my face or I’m going to hit you!’ to me, as I’m saying he can go sit down because I’m asking Daniel, the clerk, a question that has nothing to do with William Lamberth,” Jones said.

Following that, Jones repeatedly called Lamberth a racist on the floor. Though Lamberth pushed back a bit on that, saying he was simply defending a state employee.

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“You absolutely, as a member, can never harass and disparage an employee of the state of Tennessee,” he said. “When an employee is standing there, trying to do their job, for him to yell insults at that employee, was to me a line we don’t cross.”

Then, the gallery chanted “Ku Klux Cameron,” apparently referring to the House Speaker and referring to the KKK. Sexton ordered state troopers to clear the gallery, leading to more protests, including from Jones and Pearson.

As one protester refused to leave, state troopers brought her out by force. THP brought the woman to the ground floor, where a spontaneous – and mainly peaceful – protest ensued.

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Then law enforcement put her in a patrol car, and another protest over Tennessee’s House ended, but it certainly won’t be the last.

“This is what we continue to see all session, is this targeting and silencing of dissent, making the Capitol this private country club, this palace instead of the people’s House,” Jones said. “We’re here to stand with these Tennesseans who have a right to be in the Tennessee Capitol.”

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