The racist move to oust two Black Democratic lawmakers from the dark red Tennessee House of Reps backfired spectacularly.
After days of statewide and national outrage over the expulsion of Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson for leading a gun control demonstration after the Nashville school shooting (while the other lawmaker involved in the protest, who was white, did not get expelled), Jones was reinstated yesterday. Thousands of passionate protestors marched with him to the Tennessee Capitol steps, where he was sworn back in surrounded by a sea of supporters (see videos below, posted by Victor Shi and Brian Krassenstein).
"No expulsion, no attempt to silence us will stop us, but it will only galvanize and strengthen our movement," Jones said in a statement, via The New York Times.
Meanwhile, it looks like Pearson might be headed back to the legislature by tomorrow, according to the NYT.
From The NYT:
Within an hour of the Metropolitan Nashville Council unanimously voting to temporarily appoint Mr. Jones back to the seat, the young lawmaker had returned to take his place in the Republican-controlled legislature that overwhelmingly voted to expel him just four days earlier.
"Power to the people!" he concluded, and the gallery erupted in cheers.
Nashville's move to appoint Mr. Jones deepens the bitter rift between the council and the Tennessee legislature's Republican supermajority, which has flexed its control over liberal-leaning areas and moved to rein in the autonomy of the state's largest cities. Just hours before the vote, a judicial panel temporarily halted a law that would slash the council in half, after Nashville sued the state.
The council voted 36 to 0 to send Mr. Jones, the only person nominated, back to the House ahead of a special election later this year. The fast pace of his reinstatement meant that he had not missed a single floor session in the House.
Jones and Pearson, who were mostly known only within their state, are now recognized worldwide, thanks to the reactionary and bigoted GOP. The lawmakers couldn't have asked for a better fast track to the global stage.
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