Lawmakers among others react to the protests across Tennessee after the death of George Floyd

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TENNESSEE (WATE) – So far, protests in reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota have occurred all across Tennessee.

There have been protests and rallies in Knoxville, Morristown, Nashville and Memphis after a video of Floyd’s death also sparked protests all across the country.

RELATED: Protests emerge across Tennessee after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota

In Middle Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee mobilized the National Guard in Nashville as violence erupted during a protest late Saturday night.

FILE – (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

“At the request of Mayor Cooper, I am authorizing the National Guard to mobilize in response to protests that have now taken a violent, unlawful turn in Nashville.

The threat to both peace and property is unacceptable and we will work with local law enforcement and community leaders to restore safety and order. This is not a reflection of our state or the fundamental American right to peaceful protest.”

Governor Bill Lee
randy mcnally_258966
FILE – State Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge.

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally took to Twitter and said, “What is happening in Nashville is a descent into madness. This is not who we are. The outside agitators responsible for this mayhem should cease, desist and leave our state. The police are not perfect. Those who transgress against our citizens should be brought to justice.”

McNally continued to say that law enforcement is the only thing keeping order amid the chaos, and that he supported Gov. Lee’s decision to mobilize the National Guard and the THP Strike Force.

“This lawlessness is counterproductive and wrong. It needs to end tonight.”

Lt. Governor Randy McNally

Representative Chuck Fleischmann says that his heart breaks after seeing initially peaceful protests turn violent.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann

”Protestors who are peacefully exercising their first amendment right should be allowed to be heard.‪

Chief Deputy Austin Garrett, Chief David Roddy, Chattanooga Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriffs Office have shown incredible leadership.‪

I also want to applaud the work of our local journalists who are continuing to work around the clock to ensure our community stays informed WRCB Channel 3 Eyewitness News, News 12 Now, WTVC-TV News, Channel 9 News, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Knoxville News Sentinel, WATE 6 On Your Side, WVLT, and WBIR Channel 10‪.

It has been a rough year, and our nation will not heal overnight, but we should not forget how blessed we all are to live in the world’s strongest republic.‪ I know there are brighter days ahead if we remember that we are all united as one nation under God.”

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann

Representative Tim Burchett also released a statement regarding the violence in Nashville and nationwide.

Tim Burchett. (Photo: WATE)

“The killing of George Floyd was tragic, unnecessary and unacceptable. Communities of color, and in fact our entire nation, are right to be angry, and protesting peacefully and lawfully is an appropriate way to express that anger. Rioting, as we’ve seen across our country in recent days and in Nashville tonight is illegal and unworthy of being called a protest or a rally. Looting and damaging businesses, destroying private property, vandalizing and burning public buildings are acts that distract from the memory of George Floyd and the ongoing effort to eliminate racism in our country. Thankfully, in my hometown of Knoxville, protests yesterday were peaceful. Rather than uncontrolled opportunistic violence and looting, our country need to come together in unity and in prayer.”

Rep. Tim Burchett

At around 9:04 p.m. Saturday, Representative Jason Zachary took to Twitter, thanking law enforcement for the job they’re doing in Nashville.

“Our @TNHighwayPatrol are risking their lives to protect our State Capitol from the criminals and vandals who are trashing Nashville. Please join me in praying for these men and women. I’m with them every week and they are true public servants.”

Rep. Jason Zachary

University of Tennessee Athletics releases ‘unified statement’

The University of Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer, along with 15 of the university’s head coaches released a unified statement:

“We hold our student-athletes to very high standards. With rare exceptions, our young men and women meet those standards and represent themselves, their families, their teams and the University of Tennessee with excellence—academically, athletically and socially. Right now, our student-athletes are hurting. They navigate an emotional road of sadness, confusion and rage. Our black student-athletes carry the added burden of fear and hopelessness—an old wound torn open again by the horrifying, auto-repeat playlist of viral violence in our country that seemingly will not cease.

As Tennessee head coaches, we are now calling on anyone who is a fan of the Vols and Lady Vols to meet and expect a standard in our daily walk. Let us all refuse to accept or tolerate the unjust treatment of our black neighbors. Let us challenge those who attempt to justify, dismiss, ignore or explain away mistreatment of blacks or any other person of color. Let us meet this standard head-on, out loud and outside our homes. Demand action that leads to change. Demand PROGRESS. This is a basic, human principle that, among some, seems to have become as endangered as basic human rights for blacks in our communities.

Society could benefit by injecting into our communities an element of the “team” mindset that exists in a sport locker room. It’s widely accepted that sport teaches valuable lessons about leadership, discipline, collaboration, dependability and perseverance. However, the most IMPACTFUL and life-changing lesson sport teaches might actually be the lesser-touted ability to fully accept and embrace people who are different from us and have very different life experiences. On healthy teams, if you wear the same jersey as me, I’ve got your back—regardless of race or ethnicity, it doesn’t matter. Let’s go work together and win. Period. 

Wherever you’re reading this, it likely holds true that the cultures that exist in the sports programs at your local high school or college are much healthier than the culture in your local community. Why do these healthy cultures exist in small sports teams’ locker rooms all across the country, but not in our larger communities? What can we study within a healthy team dynamic that can be applied to a metropolitan city or a rural farm town? As coaches, we don’t have all the answers to fix what’s been broken for so long. But if total acceptance, understanding and empathy—regardless of human differences—can coexist on sports teams, those things should be able to coexist anywhere.

 Vol Nation, let’s rise to the challenge to meet a new standard. If you’re going to support our black student-athletes when they compete, please have the courage to support them and their families in their daily pursuit of peace, happiness and equity.”

Phillip Fulmer, Director of Athletics
Beth Alford-Sullivan, Track & Field/Cross Country
Rick Barnes, Men’s Basketball
Lisa Glenn, Rowing
Kellie Harper, Women’s Basketball
Matt Kredich, Swimming & Diving
Alison Ojeda, Women’s Tennis
Judi Pavon, Women’s Golf
Brian Pensky, Soccer
Jeremy Pruitt, Football
Eve Rackham, Volleyball
Tony Vitello, Baseball
Brennan Webb, Men’s Golf
Karen Weekly, Softball
Ralph Weekly, Softball
Chris Woodruff, Men’s Tennis


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