This week at a budget meeting in the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee, Rep. John Deberry Jr (D-Memphis) questioned the need for the Tennessee Human Rights Commission which was established to uphold the rights of Tennessee’s minority and disability communities.
“We will not let Speaker Glen Casada silence dissent in the People’s House.”
Extended Video shows what happened when the peaceful protestors Speaker Glen Casada had dragged from Rep. Byrd’s committee last week returned to another meeting.
(Also featuring Rep. Gloria Johnson calling for Byrd’s resignation, and the silence of State Representatives Ryan Williams and William Lamberth)
Yet another incredible chapter of the Rep. David Byrd saga is unfolding right before our eyes, albeit under the radar.
Rep. Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna) is carrying a joint resolution to be heard by the Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning that “Urges the state to increase awareness of sexual abuse and the substance abuse and crime that result from sexual abuse.”
It passed a subcommittee by voice vote last week.
This is happening while still not a single Republican member of the legislature has spoken out against Rep. David Byrd, who apologized on tape to 1 of the 3 women who have now accused him of sexually molesting them when they were high school basketball players playing for him at Wayne County High School.
Former Speaker Beth Harwell asked Byrd to step down. Current Speaker Glen Casada not only hasn’t done that, he promoted Byrd to chair of an education subcommittee.
Here’s some video of Sparks presenting the resolution to a subcommittee, where it passed by voice vote:
The hypocrisy levels are off the charts on this one. From the Resolution:
“It is vitally important that victims of sexual abuse receive appropriate treatment and care that involve understanding, recognizing, and responding to the types of trauma to help them become survivors and rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.”
All this comes after Casada blatantly lied about ever meeting with the victims, who he proceeded to run ads against calling them fake news.
And feel free to join Enough is Enough at Byrd’s subcommittee hearing Tuesday afternoon at 4pm at the Cordell Hull Building.
This week Rep. Jeremy Faison made an inaccurate statement in his defense of HB 1264, a bill that would would create a new concealed handgun carry permit process that requires no fee and only a 2 hour online training, meaning people would be able to get permits and carry guns nearly everywhere without ever firing one.
The bill is being carried by Rep. Andy Holt. It passed the House Judiciary Committee easily, despite the fact that even Speaker Casada’s own polling shows 93 percent of Tennessee voters – including 93 percent of Republicans, 94 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of gun owners and 89 percent of current permit holders – support the state’s current permit requirement for carrying a handgun in public.
For some context: Tennessee is already the 11th worst state when it comes to gun deaths. 6 of the 10 that are worse have laws that make guns easier to get and carry everywhere. In 2017, Tennessee led the entire nation in shootings involving children with access to unsecured, negligently stored firearms.
Studies have repeatedly shown states with stricter gun laws have fewer gun deaths, but some refuse to accept that and cite exceptions to the rule – like Chicago, or in Faison’s case the Bahamas – to “prove” that the correlation is not causation.
At the hearing Rep. Jeremy Faison – who thankfully seems to be recovering well after his recent accident – decided to go with the Bahamas as his example, saying:
“The places where the highest amount of crimes where a gun was used in America… those were in places that we have some of the most strict, draconian, anti-constitutional laws. So somehow this notion that if we pass what y’all call ‘common sense gun laws’ – which don’t exist – that crime’s just gonna go away… ask the Bahamians how that works. In the Bahamas you can get the death penalty for having a gun, and they have major gun crime every day. So I just want to encourage you when you’re trying to use that as an argument – you might want to research your own facts.”
Here’s the video:
Ok Jeremy, let’s “research the facts”.
Any person who purchases, acquires or has in his possession, uses or carries a gun without a licence therefor shall be liable —
- (a) on conviction on information, to imprisonment for a term of ten years and to a fine of ten thousand dollars;
- (b) on summary conviction before a Stipendiary and Circuit Magistrate, to imprisonment for a term of five years and to a fine of ten thousand dollars
There’s more to it, and the years have since been amended, but absolutely nothing in their laws that says “you can get the death penalty for having a gun.”
As one lawyer in the Bahamas told us:
“I have not heard of anyone being subject to a penalty of death upon being convicted of possessing a firearm in the Bahamas. Those convicted are often given a custodial sentence or made to pay a fine at the discretion of the court.”
Another Bahamian resident:
“Frankly, I don’t think you’ll get the death penalty for anything in the Bahamas. The Privy Council has effectively abolished the death penalty.”
Turns out the last execution in the Bahamas was in the year 2000, and as of August 2012 only one man was under the sentence of death – and he killed a police officer.
So that’s a big ol’ whiff from Jeremy there.
Where Faison has an inkling of a point is that the Bahamas does have restrictive gun laws and yet still high gun violence rates, but pointing to that as proof that in general stricter gun laws don’t work is no more valid than it would be to say that one country with much stricter gun laws has almost no gun violence proves they DO work.
This is a complicated problem with many factors playing a part. The Bahamas and some other impoverished countries do have higher gun violence rats, but when it comes to the richest countries in the world, the United States is simply off the charts regarding gun deaths and gun ownership:
The Key Word is “Rich”.
The element that often gets left out of the gun violence conversation is the societal factor that has the highest correlation with gun violence is far and away poverty and wealth inequality.
The World Bank has a study that found:
“violent crime rates decrease when economic growth improves… faster poverty reduction leads to a decline in national crime rates.”
As Mark Kaplan professor of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs put it:
“There is a strong correlation between homicide per million and income inequality… countries that are most equal have the lowest rates of gun-related homicides.”
Here’s a good conversation about it.
So yes, the Bahamas and Chicago have high murder rates. They also have high poverty rates.
When poverty and inequality are rampant in certain countries/neighborhoods, and people are in dire straits and desperate, bad things happen – particularly when guns are extremely accessible within the vicinity. (Chicago has states with lax gun laws right next door, and the Bahamas has the United States nearby)
This doesn’t mean gun safety laws don’t work. On balance the numbers are clear: They do.
What it does mean is if we’re serious about addressing gun violence in our communities, making them cheaper and even easier to get in already dangerous states is not the answer. Instead, we should be focusing on gun safety legislation and policies that address inequality and poverty:
…Raising our $7.25 an hour minimum wage to a livable one…expanding medicaid… subsidizing daycare for low income families… lowering health care costs and drug prices… tax reform that actually helps regular Americans (rather than corporations and the wealthy)… criminal justice reform…
Programs that put more money directly in people’s pockets, makes their lives better, and takes them out of desperate situations will save lives when it comes to gun violence.
In summation: The Bahamas doesn’t tell us gun laws don’t work. The Bahamas reminds us gun violence is a poverty/inequality problem as much as anything else.
And with all due respect to Rep. Faison, maybe next time you should “research your facts” before saying things that aren’t true on a legislative committee, especially one that’s helping to create a more dangerous environment for our children.
Letting people carry in public without ever firing one is like doing away with Driver’s License tests. If you agree, holler at Rep. Faison HERE.
(P.S. – Gun safety laws and the 2nd Amendment are not incompatible. Ask Justice Scalia.)
There were more fireworks at the capitol today as police arrested a group of young voters who were again there to protest the bust of the KKK’s first Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest, which remains prominently featured in the lobby.
This was not their first clash with Speaker Glen Casada. Previously Casada and Justin Jones, a leader of the group, had a run-in after Chief of Staff Cade Cothren told Jones that the reason Casada wasn’t getting their emails was because Jones had misspelled “Capitol” in the email address.
We obtained proof that this was not true.
This time things escalated further as Jones threw a drink at Speaker Casada as he fled into the elevator.
Physical contact of any kind is something nobody condones. Jones and Jeneisha Harris were both arrested by troopers, and according to Natalie Jones of the Tennessean Jones has been charged with 2 counts of simple assault for hitting Casada and Rep. Debra Moody with his drink, as well as with disorderly conduct.
This confrontation comes on the heels of Casada cutting the mics of Rep. Mike Stewart and Rep. Bo Mitchell today as they were speaking up for a group of peaceful women Casada recently had escorted out of a hearing presided over by Rep. David Byrd. His office says the women were “disrupting the legislative process”. Video shows they were not, and that the hearing was actually in recess when they were taken out by troopers.
Before today’s arrests, Jeneisha Harris had asked Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver to sign their petition to have the bust of the KKK’s first Grand Wizard removed from the state capitol. Weaver would not sign, defending her position with a familiar line:
“Some of my best friends are black.”
After being asked if she’s racist or if she will sign a petition for NBF bust removal, Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver tells protesters at Capitol some of her best friends are black. #tnleg pic.twitter.com/MYjgWyWs5B
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) February 28, 2019
It’s worth noting that Weaver previously used a similar defense when she was called out for posting a Halloween picture of herself with her pastor posing in blackface as Aunt Jemima, which Weaver captioned:
“Aunt Jemima, you is so sweet.”
Weaver’s defense when confronted about that?
“I’m the least racist of anyone. Some of my greatest friends are black.”
Maybe one of those friends should have a little chat with her.
If you agree having black friends doesn’t make supporting having a KKK Grand Wizard’s bust in the state capitol, feel free to holler at Weaver HERE.
And Casada is calling anyone who disagrees with him a “radical”, but if you think wanting a KKK Grand Wizard bust removed from the state capitol and an admitted sexual molester to step down is the opposite of “radical”, holler at Casada HERE.
There have been many reports about what happened when Speaker Casada had trooper drag peaceful women out of a committee meeting presided over by Rep. David Byrd, who has admitted on tape to sexually molesting high school girls he coached.
Casadas office released a statement saying the women were “disrupting the legislative process” – here’s extended video that proves that statement to be false.
Please watch and share… and the women would like you to know they will be at the next Byrd hearing Tuesday at 4pm at the Cordell Hull building, and would love you to join them.
Here’s the WSMV News 4, Nashville report last night from Jeremy Finley on speaker Glen Casada having peaceful women removed from a hearing chaired by Rep. Byrd that wasn’t even in session, simply because they made Byrd uncomfortable.
Last we checked free speech was an important part of the constitution:
Yesterday at a Health Committee hearing Rep. Micah Van Huss (R) once again presented his “Heartbeat Bill” – HB 0077 – and reiterated that the bill, which outlaws abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, often around 6 weeks, does not provide exceptions for rape and incest.
Critics note that many women don’t know they’re pregnant until after 6 weeks, particularly in the case of an unplanned pregnancy, and that the committee is almost entirely male.
Van Huss made headlines last week with his responses to questions from Rep. Vincent Dixie (D), saying that incest is “either consensual or rape” implying that incest should not be included in the abortion exemption conversation, and that rape was a “sin” of both the father and mother that the “baby” should not pay for.
At today’s hearing Dixie and Van Huss again went toe to toe, and again Van Huss gave an answer that elicited gasps from the audience when Dixie presented a detailed scenario in which a high school basketball player was raped by her coach, impregnated, and forced to carry his baby to term.
Dixie asked Van Huss if he can find the evil in that scenario, to which Van Huss replied:
“I cannot. Because the evil I find is what you left out. I don’t believe it’s right to rip an innocent baby limb from limb.”
Watch the video here:
HB 0077 does not provide exceptions for rape and incest. It forces a woman to carry her rapist’s baby to term, and would make it a Class C felony for a doctor to perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
The bill passed 15-4 along party lines, with only 3 women voting. It will now be voted on by the legislature.
The bill has been called “constitutionally suspect” by the committee attorney and the attorney general has also questioned its constitutionality, which means costly legal battles are ahead which the taxpayers of Tennessee would be on the hook for.
Time to holler at your reps loud and clear.
At the capitol on Thursday, Speaker Glen Casada had a run-in with a group of young engaged and active citizens who have become regulars in the halls of the Tennessee legislature expressing their disgust with the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the KKK, which is still featured prominently in the lobby.
Speaker Casada slipped out a back door. The trooper initially wouldn’t let reporters out into the hallway where the protesters were waiting. He finally moved out of the way after @schelzig demanded they let us out. #tnleg pic.twitter.com/Zvj1Df6o09
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) February 21, 2019
The group had been trying to schedule a meeting with Casada for weeks. In emails obtained by The Holler, Justin Jones, one of the leaders, emails Casada and his chief of staff Cade Cothren with reporters copied on the email asking to schedule 20 minutes for the group to come in and plead their case for why the bust should be removed:
After repeated attempts to communicate, Cothren finally responds to an email saying “it looks like we can get you in during the first week of March”:
Jones then immediately responds affirming that date works, and asking for Casada’s position on the bust so they can be prepared when they get there:
A few days go by with silence from Cothren, so Jones replies again:
Two days later, on Thursday, the group showed up in the lobby to talk to Cothren in person. The video can be seen below, in which Cothren asks to see Jones’ phone, then tells Jones he had the spelling of “capitol” wrong in his emails and makes the claim that that’s why he hasn’t responded.
As you can see in the emails above, that simply is not the case.
The claim is even more preposterous considering Jones was responding to an email Cothren had already sent.
In the video, Jones then sees Casada coming down the stairs and asks him directly for a meeting, to which Casada replies “we’re meeting!” before pushing Jones, who had slid in front of Casada’s path, aside.
Troopers then forcibly removed Jones from the door Casada disappeared behind as Jones shouted through it.
Nobody was hurt, and things immediately calmed down as Jones and fellow protestors, including Jeneisha Harris, talked to the troopers, who assured them they were there to protect everyone.
As they talk to the trooper Rep. David Byrd can be seen walking by, which Jones points out might be something they should be more concerned with considering he has apologized on tape for sexual misconduct with high school players he coached, as CNN pointed out yesterday.
Casada can be seen in one of our previous videos about that topic lying on tape about meeting with those victims also. Anyone else sensing a theme here?
If you are, holler at Casada HERE to tell him and his office to stick to the truth, meet with the protestors, pull down the bust, and get rid of Rep. David Byrd, the admitted sex offender Casada promoted to chair of an education subcommittee.
When @GlenCasada put his hands on us- the trooper said “he had a right to defend himself.”
When Rep. Byrd admitted on tape to sexual assault- Casada said “he had a right to due process.”
It seems the only ppl who have rights in TN are privileged white men who abuse their power.
— Justin Jones (@brotherjones_) February 23, 2019