NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — About a dozen women held hands and blocked TN Speaker of the House Beth Harwell’s office to demand Rep. Jeremy Durham be removed from office.
A group of community activists including female college students gathered at the Tennessee State Capital to call on Jeremy Durham to resign his seat or be removed from office.
Durham, R-Williamson County, has been under fire since the beginning of the year after allegations surfaced he sent inappropriate text messages and made unwanted comments to women, including interns.
Durham has denied any wrong doing, but resigned from the House Republican Caucus, resigned as majority whip and took a 2 week hiatus for medical and pastoral care.
Speaker Beth Harwell asked for the Tennessee Attorney General to investigate, a deadline for that investigation to be completed has not been released.
Meanwhile, Durham announced his plans to seek re-election. That is one of the reasons the group decided to hold a public protest at the Capitol.
“We felt like time had already passed and we weren’t seeing anything done,” Whitney Washington said. “As the session continues things are going to get more and more hectic.”
She continued, “We thought it would be great to get that message out before that election time comes.”
The group gathered just after 11 am. They then walked to Rep. Durham’s office and left signs that read “resign” on the floor of his office.
Then they walked to the offices of house members appointed to the investigative committee that is reviewing Durham’s behavior.
“This is making this an unsafe work environment for women to work in and to advance,” Washington said. “It’s just not fair.”
Durham who was in the full House of Representatives session did not see the protestors, but did tell News 2 by email he knew about the protest.
He sent this statement via email:
Although I fully support freedom of speech, I’m disappointed that these young liberals would turn a serious matter into political grandstanding and minimize the weight of this important issue for those who have truly been harassed in the workplace. I realize we live in a politically correct society, but making a false accusation when there was never even a complaint filed is extremely unfair.”
Durham also said he is cooperating fully with the Attorney General investigation and “hope it’s behind everyone soon.”
The group ended their protest by putting teal duct tape on their mouths. Teal is the color for sexual assault awareness month, which started April 1st.
“I feel he should be held accountable for his actions,” Protestor Ashley Dickson said. “It is been sort of swept under the rug.”
She continued, “Supposedly a committee is investigating it but all the investigations have been closed.”
The protest ended around noon without incident.