Nashville Officials Unanimously Vote to Reinstate Justin Jones

Jones was one of two Black Democrats who were expelled for their participation in a gun control protest.

George Walker/AP

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In a unanimous vote Monday, the Nashville Metropolitan Council voted to reinstate Rep. Justin Jones, one of the two Black Democratic lawmakers expelled last week after protesting for gun control from the chamber floor. Their demonstration was in response to a deadly mass shooting at a Nashville grade school that killed six people.

“This awakened to the world that there is no democracy in Tennessee and that today’s vote is a very dangerous precedent for the nation,” Jones told Mother Jones’ Garrison Hayes moments after his expulsion. “In a week after a mass shooting, it is so outrageous that the first reaction of this body is to expel me rather than to pass common sense gun laws.”

The expulsions of Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson prompted national outrage, including a statement from the White House condemning the move as “shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent.”

“A democracy says you don’t silence the people, you don’t stifle the people, you don’t turn off their microphones when they are speaking about the importance of life and liberty,” said Vice President Kamala Harris during a speech at Nashville’s historically Black Fisk University on Friday. 

In a narrow vote, Democratic lawmaker Rep. Gloria Johnson, a white woman who had also participated in the protest, was spared from expulsion. “It might have to do with the color of our skin,” Johnson said when asked why she survived the vote to oust her, while her Black colleagues did not. 

A vote to potentially send back Pearson may take place next week.

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