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Black US State Lawmaker Reinstated

FILE: State Representative Justin Jones reenters the House Chamber after the Republican majority Tennessee House of Representatives voted to expel him and Justin Pearson for a gun control demonstration in Nashville, Tennesee,. April 10, 2023.

NASHVILLE - Representative Justin Jones, one of the two Black Democrats expelled last week from the White GOP-led Tennessee House was reinstated Monday after Nashville’s governing council voted to send him straight back to the Legislature.

The unanimous vote by the Nashville Metropolitan Council took only a few minutes to restore Rep. Justin Jones to office just four days after Republicans stripped him of his seat.

Moments later, Jones marched to the Capitol several blocks away. He took the oath of office on the steps and entered the building while supporters sang “This Little Light of Mine.”

A loud round of applause erupted as Jones walked into the chamber with Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson, who was also targeted for expulsion, but spared by one vote.

“Power to the people,” he shouted, to cheers. Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton told Jones' supporters in the galleries to “please refrain from disrupting the proceedings.”

Republicans banished Jones and fellow lawmaker Justin Pearson over their role in a gun control protest on the House floor in the aftermath of a deadly school shooting.

The other expelled Black representative , Justin Pearson, could be reappointed Wednesday at a meeting of the Shelby County Commission.

The expulsions on Thursday made Tennessee a new front in the battle for the future of American democracy and propelled the ousted lawmakers into the national spotlight.

In the span of a few days, the two had raised thousands of campaign dollars and the Tennessee Democratic Party had received a new jolt of support from across the U.S.