Three members of the public on Tuesday were removed from a subcommittee hearing at the Tennessee Capitol for breaking new decorum rules by holding up paper signs advocating for gun reform safety, one day after the House banned visitors from displaying signs of any kind at committee meetings.
The session, held by the Tennessee House Civil Justice subcommittee, was part of day two of a special legislative session called by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to discuss the state’s gun laws in light of The Covenant School shooting in March.
On Monday, Republican House members adopted new disciplinary rules for the special session, which include banning members of the public from carrying signs in House galleries and committee meetings.
Less than a day later, three individuals holding homemade signs that read “1 KID > ALL THE GUNS” during the Civil Justice subcommittee hearing were forcefully removed by the Tennessee Highway Patrol at the request of Republican legislative members. Several videos of the moment have circulated on social media, including a video posted to X, formerly Twitter, by gun reform activist Shannon Watts.
“Tennessee House subcommittee members had state troopers physically remove gun safety activists who quietly held signs from a hearing,” Watts wrote along with her video, which at the time of posting had over 1 million views. “We bow down to this woman who – visibly shaking – said: ‘You will have to drag me out.’ Moms will win.”
The first of the people removed Tuesday has been identified by Scripps News Nashville as Allison Polidor, who told Tennessee troopers when first asked to leave the session, “It’s my First Amendment right.”
As she was escorted out of the room, Polidor also shouted at legislators on the subcommittee, “This is not what democracy looks like.”
Other members of the public who attended the hearing also spoke up as troopers removed Polidor, including one woman who yelled over the crowd, “You all won’t do this for people who bring guns to school.”
The Tennessean reported that minutes after the three visitors holding the signs were removed, House Civil Justice Committee Chairman Lowell Russell asked state troopers to eventually remove all members of the public from the hearing after someone in the audience applauded a bill action.
In a statement to Newsweek Tuesday evening, Russell said that members of the public were asked several times to not disrupt the committee hearing before the meeting was closed.
“After requests for those in attendance to not disrupt the committee failed, I had the audience view the committee from the hallway,” read the statement from Russell, a Republican who represents Tennessee’s 21st State District. “People were allowed to re-enter the committee room to testify during the committee meeting. It’s unfortunate a simple request to keep the [noise] down was repeatedly ignored.”
Polidor told Scripps News Nashville after she was removed from the hearing that she had brought the sign and attended Tuesday’s hearings “for my kids—everyone’s kids.”
“They are making these laws or lack of laws,” she continued. “I am here representing everyone’s kids. No one should worry if their kids are going to come home from school or not. I feel like you can’t sit by. When we’ve come to the point you can’t hold up a sign, it’s not OK.”
It does not appear from news reports that Polidor or the other individuals holding the signs made any noise prior to being asking to leave by legislators.