“Moral Monday” event draws thousands to Tennessee Capitol
Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, and Bishop William Barber, II, attempt to bring a coffin into the Tennessee House of Representatives chambers on Monday. (Photo: John Partipilo)
More than 1,000 people marched to the Tennessee Capitol on Monday as part of Bishop William Barber’s “Moral Monday” movement to press lawmakers to pass safe gun laws.
Barber, who began leading similar events in North Carolina in 2013, joined with Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, for Monday’s event. The two have been close since meeting while Jones was a student at Nashville’s Fisk University.
Group members gathered in downtown Nashville’s McKendree Methodist Church before walking the three blocks from the church to the Capitol, carrying six coffins — three child-sized — symbolizing the six victims of the March 27 mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville’s Green Hills neighborhood. Three of the shooting victims were 9-year-old students; the other three were staff members.
Once inside the Capitol, Jones — recently reinstated after House Republicans voted to expel him and Memphis Democratic Rep. Justin Pearson for leading a gun safety rally on the House floor on March 30 – and Barber were rebuffed in their attempts to bring one of the coffins into House chambers. Meanwhile, protesters prayed outside the chambers and responded angrily when legislators rolled a bill that would permit teachers to carry guns in classrooms to Wednesday morning.
Photojournalist John Partipilo documented the event.
"Get out!" A sergeant-at-arms for the Tennessee Legislature yells at photojournalist John Partipilo, ordering him to leave the House of Representative chambers as Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, looks on. Partipilo was one of several photojournalists prohibited from being in the chambers on Monday. (Photo: John Partipilo)
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