Two activists were arrested Thursday morning after throwing coffee at Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) and allegedly physically assaulting Rep. Debra Moody (R-Covington) in an elevator at the state capitol.
Justin Jones and Jeneisha Harris were charged with disorderly conduct after the attack, and Jones with two counts of assault, which came after what the Tennessee House Republicans are calling "liberal radical democrat activists on Republican members."
Video of the incident has been shared online. Casada boards the elevator after weaving through the group of protestors and troopers.
VIDEO- The “peaceful protestors” dems @MikeStewartLive @marymancini @VoteBo @tndp @JRClemmons @TNDemocrats say “deserve to be heard” & are “exercising their rights” physically assaulting Spkr @GlenCasada & @RepDebraMoody. Still waiting on dems to denounce the attacks. #TNleg pic.twitter.com/Cenu0IGRx2— TN House Republicans (@tnhousegop) February 28, 2019
Once the cup of coffee is thrown into the elevator, which has several people inside, Moody can be heard saying, "Oh my … That hit me! That hit me!"
The protests have been continuous at the capitol.
A group of "less than a dozen protestors," according to the Tennessean, were beating on a door and, when stopped by state troopers, one yelled "Casada is a racist."
The group is protesting the presence of a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest in the capitol.
Later, they sang "Wade in the Water" and changed the lyric to "God's gonna trouble Casada," outside the room where a meeting was held.
On Wednesday, Jones tweeted remarks suggesting Casada's leadership promotes policies of violence against minority groups.
The past couple wks at the TN Capitol cannot be normalized. Under the leadership of Speaker @GlenCasada & other extremists, the People’s House has become a sight of continued policy violence against people of color, women, and low-income Tennesseans.— Justin Jones (@brotherjones_) February 28, 2019
Harris, whose Twitter profile said she's a student and activist, is the co-founder and chairwoman of the National Black Action Committee and the creator of Reading for Liberation.
She said the statue of Forrest enables racist behavior.
In response to the protests, Casada said Thursday he would join Gov. Bill Lee and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally in adding context to the statue or moving it to a museum if the legislature decides to do so.
Thursday afternoon, Casada said that type of behavior will not be tolerated.
"I will not stand for radicals physically & verbally assaulting my members," he tweeted. "This behavior has no place or voice here. These folks have been arrested and charged with assault."
The incident has left the Tennessee GOP calling for a formal denouncement of the attack from House Democrats.
There is no room in our civil discourse for behavior like this. These protestors have shown they are solely interested in causing a scene and disrupting the legislative process. The @tndp should denounce these protestors and their increasingly shameful behavior. #tnleg https://t.co/88dZVT5j5H— TNGOP (@TNGOP) February 28, 2019