Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) rallied outside the Capitol on Wednesday with Tennessee State Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville), in a call for gun control and an end to “attacks on democracy.”
“We’re here today, to put it quite simply, because we’re young and fed up,” Frost said to supporters and press outside the Capitol on Wednesday. “Earlier this month, this nation watched in horror as innocent school children in Nashville were murdered in their classrooms.”
Then, he said, they remained focused on the southern state as a “far-right fascist movement” expelled Jones and his colleague Rep. Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) for protesting gun violence.
“We come with a message from the Tennessee capitol to the U.S. Capitol: that we are fed up with the attacks on our democracy and we are fed up with the endless cycle of mass shootings,” said Jones. “We are fed up with legislators and politicians who are trapped in the politics of racism. We are fed up, and when you are fed up, you got to rise up.”
Jones and his fellow State Reps. Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson visited the White House on Monday to discuss gun control with President Biden.
Like Jones, Pearson was expelled by the GOP-controlled state legislature for joining the protest on the House floor. Johnson, a white woman who joined the two young Black lawmakers, held on to her seat.
The expulsion sparked outrage around the nation. Many, including the lawmakers who have become known as the “Tennessee Three,” pointed to the racial undertones of the expulsions. The three have since earned the praise of President Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Tennessee after their expulsion in a show of support.
“They tried to expel us, and in doing so they thought they could expel our movement,” said Jones. “But what they did was put energy and show the nation so overtly and blatantly what we’re up against.”
Frost told The Hill that when he heard Jones was coming to Washington D.C., he knew right away they needed to mobilize.
“I asked him and we said do we want to mobilize on gun violence, Black solidarity or youth and he said, ‘All of them,’” Frost said. “So we decided to go through that lens of being a person of color, being a young person and fearing gun violence in this country and the climate crisis and how all of this is all combined.”
“I always joke around that the age of the single issue voter is quickly dying because young people in this country don’t see one issue, they see everything combined and I think that’s really important and the representative shows that in what he does,” Frost added.
Frost and Jones were joined by a host of fellow activists and political leaders, including Wisdom Cole, National Director of the NAACP Youth and College Division, and Democratic Reps. Summer Lee (Penn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Steven Horsford (Nev.).
Frost, who made history with his election by becoming the first Gen Z member of Congress and Congress’s first Afro-Cuban member, has been an ardent supporter of gun control.
He has called his generation “the mass shooting generation,” and has previously said it feels like he has “been through more mass shooting drills than fire drills.”
“What it means to be young in this country right now is to understand what gun violence means, it’s to understand the climate crisis, it’s to understand these issues of our time,” Frost said Wednesday.
Jones added it’s time for the White House to take action and called on Biden to “do something out of the ordinary.”
“We need our White House to use the power of executive orders to declare gun violence a public health emergency,” Jones said.