Tennessee state representative Justin Pearson reinstated

Gun Rights
Democratic state Rep. Justin Pearson of Memphis speaks on his phone while being expelled from the state Legislature on April 6, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee. — AFP
Democratic state Rep. Justin Pearson of Memphis speaks on his phone while being expelled from the state Legislature on April 6, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee. — AFP

Representative Justin Pearson has been reinstated to his seat by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners, just one week after two lawmakers were expelled from the Republican-controlled Tennessee House of Representatives, according to NPR.

During the meeting, seven out of 13 members voted to reinstate Pearson, while six were absent. Pearson stated that he would attend a session at the Capitol on Thursday after his reinstatement was approved.

Chairman Mickell M. Lowery of the commission, who presented the resolution to reappoint Pearson to his seat, noted that there were individuals who disagreed with the expulsion.

In an interview, Lowery said: “I think that it’s important that the people of District 86 are represented by the person that they voted overwhelmingly to have in the office.”

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Earlier on Monday, Representative Justin Jones was also reinstated to his seat after the expulsion.

On Wednesday afternoon, while leading a march from the National Civil Rights Museum to Selby County Commission, he told the members of the rally to show him “what Democracy looks like.”

Pearson said: “This is the Democracy that is going to transform a broken nation and a broken state into the place that God calls for it to be. This is the Democracy that is going to lift up the victims of gun violence instead of supporting the NRA and the gun lobbyists.”

The expulsion ignited racism debate

The expulsion of the two non-white representatives from the Tennessee House sparked a conspiracy of toxic partisanship and racism in the House. The House is dominated by mostly white Republicans who used a disciplinary stance to expel the two non-white members. However, they could not oust the white member Representative Gloria Johnson.

The Tennessee House expelled the members after they launched a demonstration calling for gun reform laws.

After the expulsion vote last week, Johnson said: “It might have to do with the colour of our skin.”

Both the reinstated members will return in the capacity of interim members however, they can take part in the special election to acquire their lost seat until the general elections due in 2024.

Justin Jones, Justin Pearson are popular now

Political analyst Otis Sanford said while speaking to WKNO that “It is a throwback to our racist past.”

Stanford also predicted: The expulsions would lead young people in Tennessee to get more involved with their state’s politics. He also said: “The lawmakers who were singled out could have bright futures.”

“On a more positive note, both Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, I think, showed the voters in their districts exactly why they should be reelected,” Sanford said who is also a professor at the University of Memphis.

“But also, it seems like they made themselves look like future political stars nationally”, he added.

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