Texas to Tennessee… Defending Democracy

27 Apr, 23

Dear Friends,

This week, Harris County Commissioners Court proudly passed a resolution supporting the Tennessee state representatives who were under attack this month. In case you missed it, Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled after leading a protest on gun violence in the wake of a school shooting in Nashville that claimed the lives of six people. A third member who participated in the protest, Representative Gloria Johnson, a white woman, was stripped of her committee assignments and not expelled, a decision made by a margin of one vote.

These actions were a travesty that showed a blatant disregard for the will of the people, especially the people of color who elected them. While their local governments reinstated them, this is part of a broader pattern of undermining diverse representation in the halls of power, which sets a dangerous precedent. From Texas to Tennessee, we must defend our democracy, the right to peaceful dissent, and racial justice.

Harris County's resolution, approved Tuesday, says loudly and clearly that political dissent — particularly from people of color, women, and other historically marginalized and disenfranchised groups — is essential to a healthy, vibrant, and inclusive democracy. We stand in solidarity with civil rights leaders, voters, and those concerned with the loss of our freedoms who have taken to the streets across our nation to protest the erosion of our democracy.

Political instability is now seen as a significant threat to our nation. Recent polls have shown that a large majority of Americans believe our democracy is in crisis and likely to get worse. Attempts to override elections, deprive the people of their voice, and further polarize and divide the nation only further these perceptions and cause despair, frustration, and loss of faith in our democracy.

Here in Harris County, we will continue to push back against lawmakers seeking to strip away our right to vote and to control our school districts, elections officers, and flood control district. We remain committed to serving the people of Harris County and condemn threats to our democracy at every level of government.

I remain dedicated to promoting democracy and protecting the rights of all people to express their dissenting views without fear of retribution. We can only overcome the challenges we face by working together and upholding the values that make our democracy strong.

In solidarity,

Rodney Ellis