The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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Following tragedy, solutions arise

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©HAWKEYE image credit: Charli Gilchrist

On March 30, a massive uproar in Nashville, Tennessee, led to a protest where 7,000 high school students protested within the Tennessee capital. The start of the protests were three days after the Nashville shooting, in which a local resident and prior student to the Covenant School, Aiden Hale, shot his way into the school, killing three students and three teachers. This shooting caused turmoil across the nation. After many reported school shootings as well as mass shootings, more people began wondering if students were going to stay safe when walking the halls of their schools. The Nashville shooting became a more controversial topic due to the shooter being a trans man. 

After this, there was still a refusal by Tennessee legislators to put gun restrictions in place. Over 10,000 peaceful protesters rallied around the Tennessee House Chamber demanding stricter gun control. Protesters were repeating, “What do we want? Gun control. When do we want it? Now,” and “No justice, no peace.”

“It ticks me off, they should really limit the gun laws out here. You can’t just be buying guns like it’s a grocery item. I’d totally join the protests, it’s a serious matter and I’d love to join in,” freshman Gwen McGlothlin said.

 After making it into the capitol building, protesters reportedly started singing “All You Need Is Love,” a popular song by The Beatles. Many protesters began filming the events. Lawmakers were escorted by police to the scheduled hearings while citizens continued to protest against the legislators and representatives, asking them, “What will it take for you to put stricter gun laws in place?” 

“It kind of worries me, you know?” junior Dominick Calica said. “Because people that are making the laws aren’t contributing to the protests concerning laws, and high school kids are the main victims of school shootings.”

During a debate for an education bill in Tennesee, people continued chanting, and three Democratic legislators stood up with bullhorns to show their support for the protesters. Rep. Justin Pearson of Memphis, Rep. Justin Jones of Nashville (more commonly known as the Justin Brothers) and Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, together known as the “Tennessee Three.” The three representatives were seen walking up to a lectern called the “well” standing alongside protestors, chanting for gun reform.

Once the three legislators stood up and started chanting alongside protesters, Cameron Sexton, head speaker of Tennessee’s House of Representatives, immediately paused the hearing and requested the three Democratic representatives be escorted out by police. 

Sexton could then be seen huddling with other known Republican legislators, likely discussing how to move forward with the hearing.

One day after the large protest at the Tennessee Capitol, the three representatives that stood with the crowd soon faced backlash from Congress for their actions.

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Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were officially expelled from Congress on April 9. 

The day The Tennessee Three were on trial, many came to protest the expulsion. The three were seen walking through the capitol, as protesters cheered them on. They were filmed with their fists up as protesters were cheering, “We stand with justice,” as well as, “Free, free, free. Free the Tennessee Three.”

“We called for you to ban assault weapons, and you responded with an assault on democracy,” Representative Justin Jones stated in a speech during their expulsion. “For years one of your members, who was an admitted child molester, sat in this chamber. No expulsion. One member who sits in this chamber, who was found guilty of domestic violence. No expulsion.” 

Jones continued in his speech about the attack on democracy and the Tennessee House’s lack of action on tightening gun laws after the state of Tennessee expressed opposition to the lack of reform when it comes to outlawing assault weapons.

“Since you’re trying to put us on trial, I’ll say what you’re really putting on trial is the state of Tennessee.” He saidcontinued,. “It is in that spirit of speaking for my constituents, of being the representative of the people, that I approached the well last Thursday, breaking a house rule, but exercising my moral obedience to my constitutional responsibility to be a voice for my people. To be a voice for Tennesseeans when you choose to not listen because of those NRA checks.”

“I think the shooting itself is horrible. Of course, no one would want to condone a school shooting. But it’s the way the Tennessee state law is structured. It’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of pressure on people to push the conservative government to reevaluate their stance, but I personally think that some sort of temporary ban should be in place at some point,.” freshman Theo Abero said, stated.

During the debate for the expulsion, protesters were heard shouting, “You ban books. You ban drag. Kids are still in body bags.”

Considered one of the most renowned moments during this debate, Rep. Justin Pearson made his powerful speech “In the Well” after being questioned by the Tennessee body on why he was getting expelled. 

“I believe I am in the well today because you have put forward a resolution that says that it is more important to expel the voices of dissent than do the work of justice, which is fighting to end gun violence in the state of Tennessee. See I believe I am in the well today because I, with the courage of ancestors and family and loved ones in communities, stood up and spoke up for folks like my classmate, like Lary Thorne, who can speak no more because of the proliferation of guns in Tennessee. I believe I am in the well today because you have decided that it is not right to have a debate, it is not right to listen to the voices of the minority. I believe I am in the well today because on the day that we wanted to honor the thousands of people who protested, but we were denied that opportunity. I believe I am here today because you feel in your hearts to persecute someone who has committed no crime, who has broken what you call a ‘House Decorum rule’ which according to section 19 of the House Permanent Rules of Order says that, at worst, the thing that should happen in 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. And I believe, Representative Farmer, that that is wrong,” he said.

Shortly after the expulsion, a unanimous vote, decided by the Nashville city council, soon reinstated Justin Pearson once again. 

The reinstatement happened just one day after the expulsion of the two.

“They tried to kill democracy,” Representative Pearson said in a public speech made shortly after the unanimous vote. 

“They tried to expel the people’s choices and the people’s vote. And they awakened a sleeping giant. They put Gloria Johnson and Justin Jones and me on trial, but they ended up putting themselves on trial. The people’s verdict is back: Guilty. Guilty of white supremacy, guilty of the patriarchy, guilty of supporting the NRA (National Rifle Association) over people, guilty of attacking the poor, guilty of not expanding our health care, guilty for not giving us educational resources. Guilty, guilty, guilty.”

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About the Contributors
Halle Connell, News Editor
Halle Connell has been working with and studying journalism for 3 years and has produced many well-received articles and videos to different school news outlets. She mainly focuses on world news and is very interested in political and social issues. She has worked with many students in the past to get opinions of the people and not just news anchors. Halle is very interested in social justice and working to educate the world on the topics many people are not willing to talk about. Halle plans to attend college to get a degree in journalism or psychology. She is currently studying French and hopes to study abroad in France one day.
Charli Gilchrist, Graphics Editor
Charli Gilchrist joined HSM to learn more about journalism and continue from where they had left off in journalism from middle school. They have no specific role but hope to help out the paper with graphic design as much as they can. In their free time, they usually enjoy studying clouds, listening to music, and scrolling through Pinterest. They plan on going to a university of the arts after graduation, but for now they can enjoy contributing to the school paper.
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