On March 27, a mass shooting leaving three schoolchildren dead jolted a local Nashville community into action. Tennessee State Reps. Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson joined protesters’ calls for change inside the state Capitol on March 30. Their actions led to Jones’ and Pearson’s expulsion from the chamber.
Yesterday (April 10), the Nashville Metropolitan Council voted unanimously to reinstate Jones and return him to his rightful seat in the state’s House of Representatives. It was a triumphant day for democracy after Republicans attempted to silence the voices of those who want to see gun control legislation passed and enacted. Jones took it a step further and called for the resignation of Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton.
“Speaker Cameron Sexton must resign as House Speaker,” Jones declared in a speech yesterday after his reinstatement. “Cameron Sexton, we are calling on you to resign because you are an enemy to democracy. Cameron Sexton, we are calling on you to resign because you represent days past in our history, and we’re moving forward together toward a multiracial democracy.”
“We are rising up today to say that we will not bow down any longer,” he concluded. “It’s time to move out of the way because if you don’t, we’ll continue to show up at the Capitol week after week after week… This is the people’s house.” Watch a clip from the powerful address below.
Although Jones has returned to the Tennessee Capitol, he’s currently serving as the interim representative for his Nashville-area district. According to the state constitution, he’ll have to run in a special election to secure his seat again permanently; a date for the election has yet to be set.
Pearson, meanwhile, will learn his fate tomorrow (April 12) when a county commission in Memphis votes on whether to reinstate him as well. He will also need to win another vote by his constituents to be back at the Capitol for good. Judging by the support they’ve received in Tennessee and across the country, it’s safe to say Republicans in the House will watch their actions backfire on them.