One of the two legislators democrats blacks who were ousted from the Tennessee House of Representatives last week was reinstated Monday after Nashville’s governing council voted to remove it.
The unanimous vote by the Nashville Metropolitan Council lasted only minutes before Rep. Justin Jones was reinstated in office just four days after Republicans ousted him from his seat.
Moments later, Jones marched toward the Capitol, several blocks away. He was sworn in on the steps and entered the building as his supporters sang “This Little Light of Mine.”
Loud applause erupted as Jones entered the House floor accompanied by Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson, who was also ousted but saved by one vote.
“To the people of Tennessee, I stand with you,” Jones said in his first on-camera statement. “We will continue to be your voice in this place. And no expulsion, no attempt to silence us will stop us, but only galvanize and strengthen our movement. And we will continue to present ourselves at the town house.”
“Power to the people,” he shouted, to applause.
The republicans The two legislators were expelled for their participation in a gun control protest on the House floor following a school shooting in Nashville.
The other lawmaker, Justin Pearson, could be reinstated Wednesday at a Shelby County Commission meeting.
Thursday’s ousters made Tennessee a new front in the battle for the future of American democracy and put the ousted lawmakers in the national spotlight.
Jones’ appointment is provisional. Special elections for the seats will be held in the coming months. Jones and Pearson have indicated their intention to run in the special election.
Before the special council session began, a couple hundred people gathered in front of the Nashville courthouse. Some carried banners that read: “Without Justin there is no peace.” Inside the courthouse, a line of people waited outside the council chamber for the doors to open.
Rosalyn Daniel arrived early and lined up to sit in the Council room. She stated that she does not live in the Jones district, but that she resides in Nashville and is a concerned citizen.
“I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement, so I understand why this is so important,” he said.
Expulsion has generally been reserved as punishment for lawmakers accused of serious misconduct, not used as a weapon against political opponents.
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