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Nashville lawmakers vote to reappoint Justin Jones after expulsion

Lawmakers in Tennessee's House of Representatives voted Monday to reappoint Justin Jones after he was expelled following a protest on gun control.
Nashville lawmakers vote to reappoint Justin Jones after expulsion
Posted at 5:34 PM, Apr 10, 2023

During a special council meeting called in Nashville among Tennessee lawmakers, members voted to reappoint Rep. Justin Jones to House District 52 after he was expelled. 

Jones was removed in a historic expulsion in the Tennessee House of Representatives last Thursday. His reappointment was met with cheers from the crowd inside the council chambers.

"I hope we send a clear message to my former colleagues," Jones said moments before the vote. "A movement is rising up, it won’t be led by the people who love to come when the cameras are here. But it will be led by young people because that is what led us to the well that day."

While typically absent at council meetings, Nashville Mayor John Cooper made an appearance before members.

"This vote was unprecedented," Cooper said. "Let's give the district their voice back. I call this body to give them their voice back now."

Legislators voted Jones out on a 72-25 vote, nearly along party lines.

"Our voters were silenced. This isn't the first attempt to silence the people," said councilwoman Delishia Potterfield, who lives in Jones' district. "We will be victorious again. With this vote, we are restoring the political voice of 70,000 people of District 52. Their will should have never been undermined. The people chose their representative. We will send a strong message that we will not tolerate threats to our democracy."

Expulsion measures come from a moment on the House floor two weeks ago, when Jones, Rep. Justin Pearson — a Democrat from Memphis — and Rep. Gloria Johnson — a Democrat from Knoxville — interrupted the scheduled proceedings; though lawmakers later quarreled among themselves as to whether the interruption was during recess versus during the actual proceedings.

No damage was done to the Tennessee capitol, nor were there any arrests made on the day that Jones, Pearson and Johnson led the crowd from the House floor in the middle of the session with chants. Rep. Jones had a bullhorn. On that day, hundreds arrived at the capitol to try to talk to lawmakers about gun legislation in light of The Covenant School shooting. 

In the mass shooting, six people — including three 9-year-olds — died after being shot by a 28-year-old former student.

On the day in question, the three Democrats stopped after they were admonished by members of their own party, and later by the Speaker of the House after a 30-minute recess. Rep. Jones and Rep. Pearson were not formally reprimanded on the floor Thursday. Johnson stood with the two.

The Shelby County Commission will meet this week regarding former Rep. Pearson.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Nashville. 

SEE MORE: State Rep. Gloria Johnson: Race played a role in colleagues' expulsion