The Nashville Metropolitan Council is expected to vote today on whether to reinstate former State Representative Justin Jones to his Tennessee House seat.
WZTV reports the vote is scheduled for late this afternoon Tennessee time after Jones and fellow state rep Justin Pearson were expelled last week for leading a protest in the House chamber demanding gun control in the wake of a school shooting in Tennessee that left six dead.
A third member of the house who joined the two in the protest, Rep Gloria Johnson, was not expelled. She is White. Jones is Filipino and Black American while Pearson is Black.
“I will proudly walk back into that chamber if I’m given the opportunity either through a special appointment or through running through a special election to fight for my constituents because that’s what I took an oath to do,” Jones said to ABC News.
Johnson said she suspects the Republican-controlled supermajority spared her from expulsion while the others were not “may have to do with the color of our skin.”
Republicans deny the accusations
“Remember, as horrific and disgusting as the Nashville shooting was, it had nothing to do with race,” tweeted right-wing pundit Jack Posobiec, according to Newsweek. “The expelled Democrats are the ones who made it about race, and themselves, because they are desperate to racialize literally everything that happens in America.”
Jones has a history of being involved in protests, reports CBS News. He faced two misdemeanor charges for allegedly throwing a cup of liquid at Republican State Rep. Glen Casada during a protest to remove a statue of a Klan leader displayed in the state capitol. The charges were eventually dropped.
Charges were also dropped against him and other protestors following a call for police reform after the death of George Floyd as well as another time when police accused him of throwing a traffic cone at a car during a protest.
Pearson is also moving to be reinstated back into his House seat, according to CBS.
Together Jones and Pearson represented 140,000 voters, reported the BBC. The Memphis board of commissioners is expected to vote on whether to reinstate Pearson on Wednesday.
“I believe that this whole process has been unconstitutional,” Jones said to ABC. “There are crimes against democracy happening in Tennessee being led by House Speaker Cameron Sexton.”
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