The mass shooting at Nashville’s The Covenant School on March 27 rocked the local community and led to outraged calls for gun control legislation. When protesters swarmed the gallery of the Tennessee House of Representatives on March 30, Reps. Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson joined in chanting for change. Their actions led to the body expelling Jones and Pearson — the only two Black members of the trio — and narrowly avoiding removing Johnson.
After Jones and Pearson were kicked out, they earned the support of millions across the country as well as those who have the power to put them back into office. Today (April 10), the Nashville Metropolitan Council voted 36-0 to send Jones back to his seat in the Capitol. The crowd erupted in cheers when the results were announced, as seen below.
Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones is reinstated in an unanimous vote by the Metro Nashville Council pic.twitter.com/I3zytfZJDp
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) April 10, 2023
Jones and Pearson had a few avenues back to the Tennessee House after their exile. Any expelled lawmaker can be appointed back to their seat by a county commission. They’re also allowed by the state constitution to run in a special election for their spot. Pearson, who represents a district in the Memphis area, will face a similar council vote on Wednesday (April 12).
The Democratic lawmakers’ expulsion was apparent to many as a racist double standard. As the two youngest Black members of the Tennessee House of Representatives and outspoken advocates for change, they were prime targets for retribution by Republicans who control the chamber. Johnson, who kept her seat after failing to receive a supermajority vote by lawmakers, acknowledged that her doing so “might have to do with the color of our skin.”
Minutes after he was officially voted back to his post, Jones led a triumphant march back to his rightful place at the state Capitol, as seen below. The newly reinstated legislator was surrounded by throngs of supporters in the streets carrying signs and chanting, “This is what democracy looks like!”
WOW! Rep. Justin Jones is leading a crowd back to the Tennessee legislature following a vote to reinstate him back into the house.
This is democracy. This is activism. This is what America is all about. pic.twitter.com/D5C3wVXFVE
— Harry Sisson (@harryjsisson) April 10, 2023
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