Nashville Council Unanimously Votes To Reinstate Expelled State House Dem Member

(REUTERS/Kevin Wurm)

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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  • Nashville’s metro council voted Monday to reappoint state Rep. Justin Jones after last week’s expulsion for joining in with gun control protesters during legislative session in Tennessee’s Capitol.
  • Jones was one of three Democratic House members who chanted from the chamber’s well “power to the people,” “no action, no peace” and “gun control now” on a bullhorn, and one of two who were expelled Thursday.
  • “I was not standing for myself, I was standing for my constituents…and I was standing for those young people,” Jones said in his opening statement Thursday.

Nashville, Tennessee’s city council unanimously voted Monday to reinstate their Democratic state representative after being expelled from the House last Thursday.

The Republican-held House voted 72 to 25 in favor of HB 65, booting Rep. Justin Jones from his seat for joining in with gun control protesters in the chamber and disrupting the legislative session. Nashville’s metro council voted 36 to 0 to appoint Jones as the interim member to fill the vacant seat ahead of the special election, which he intends to run in; article two, section 15, of Tennessee’s state Constitution designates the local authorities this power.

“The world is watching Tennessee because what is happening here today is a farce of Democracy,” Jones said in his opening statement last Thursday. “I was not standing for myself, I was standing for my constituents…and I was standing for those young people…who are terrified by the continued trend of mass shootings plaguing our state and plaguing our nation.”

Jones was one of three state lawmakers who faced expulsion for engaging in the March 30 anti-gun protests at the state Capitol that followed the Nashville school shooting. Memphis Rep. Justin Pearson was also expelled with a 69 to 26 vote, while efforts to de-seat Knoxville Rep. Gloria Johnson narrowly failed to achieve a two-thirds majority at 65 to 30.

GOP legislators said they didn’t vote to expel Johnson because she wasn’t as involved in the protests as Jones or Pearson were, and cited her not yelling into the megaphone as part of their reasoning, according to The Associated Press.

Shelby County, Pearson’s district, will consider whether or not to reappoint the Memphis representative at a meeting on Wednesday, the AP reported. (RELATED: Ousted TN State Lawmakers Meet With Kamala Harris)

“The two governing bodies will make the decision as to who they want to appoint to these seats. Those two individuals will be seated as representatives as the constitution requires,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton said in a statement provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Jones argued that the GOP’s resolutions to expel him and his colleagues were efforts to remove two young black men and one woman from office. In the wake of last week’s expulsions, rumors have swirled that Jones and Pearson’s removal was racist because Johnson – who is white – was spared; Johnson herself told reporters that “it might have to do with the color of our skin.”

The three moved to the well of the chamber and began chanting with the protesters, “power to the people,” “no action, no peace,” and “gun control now.” The expulsion resolutions state that Jones, Pearson and Johnson “did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions.”

Protesters’ gun control demands came after 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who identified as transgender and went by “he/him” pronouns, shot and killed six at a Nashville private Christian school, three of which were students. Hale was a former student of the school who might have harbored some “resentment,” and was undergoing medical treatment for an undisclosed “emotional disorder.”

The group, now referred to on social media as the “Tennessee Three,” has garnered widespread media attention and has met with both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Biden had a conference call with the three and invited them to The White House, and Harris traveled to Tennessee to meet with them in person.

Jones, Pearson and Johnson did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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