Representative Justin Pearson of Memphis and Representative Justin Jones of Nashville will return to the Tennessee legislature. Kicked out of office in a giant show of racism, where a white legislator who joined them in protesting was not similarly punished, the pair easily won special elections in their home districts.
The voters have spoken. I sincerely double the Republicans will listen, but we can be sure Pearson and Jones will be there to keep them honest.
The landslide victories came almost three months after Pearson and Jones — two young, Black Democrats — were expelled by Tennessee Republicans for participating in a peaceful gun protest on the House floor.
During the April demonstration, Pearson and Jones, alongside Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville — an older white woman, who survived the GOP-led attempt to oust the trio — joined a group of demonstrators, made up mostly of teachers, children and parents holding signs and protesting the Nashville school shooting that left three children and three school personnel dead. The group packed the state's Capitol building and the House gallery and chanted, calling for gun restrictions. Jones, Johnson and Pearson cheered on the protestors from the front of the House chamber, with two of them using a bullhorn.
In response, state Republicans moved forward with efforts to oust them, claiming the three Democrats "did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions."
The Republican House leadership also made bad faith and over-the-top comparisons, likening the trio's behavior to the Jan. 6 "insurrection."
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