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County Officials Vote to Reappoint Lawmaker Justin Pearson After Gun Violence Protest

After fighting the good fight, Democratic lawmaker Justin Pearson is back.

Last Wednesday, county officials unanimously voted to reappoint Pearson to the Tennessee House of Representatives, which is less than a week following the legislature voting to expel him after he participated in a protest against gun violence, according to CBS News.

Tasked with appointing someone else to fill the seat, the Shelby County Board of Commissioners convened, discussing reappointing Pearson and voting him back to Nashville.

Pearson had something to say to the commissioners and those supporting at the meeting.

“Nashville thought that they could silence Democracy, but they didn’t know the Shelby County Commission," Pearson said to the cheers following the vote. “So the message for all the people in Nashville who decided to expel us: You can’t expel hope. You can’t expel love. You can’t expel our voice. And you sure can’t expel our fight. We look forward to continuing to fight, continuing to advocate, until justice rolls down like water, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Let’s get back to work.”

Commission Chairman Mickell Lowery before the vote told CBS Memphis' WREG that several commissioners, in fact, wanted Pearson to be reappointed. And all seven of the members ended up voting to reinstate him.

“My goal was to make sure that we had a quorum. I feel pretty confident about it. I wouldn’t call the meeting if I didn’t think we’d be confident in being able to appoint Justin Pearson,” Lowery told WREG.

Justin Jones, who represents Nashville and was expelled with Pearson, was also reappointed Monday thanks to the city's Metro Council.

Following the shooting at a Nashville school that killed three children and adults, Pearson, Jones, and third lawmaker, Gloria Johnson, protested against gun violence at the Tennessee state house on March 30.

In response, the Republicans, which have a supermajority, expelled all three lawmakers on April 6. Johnson, though, survived by one vote, while the other two were expelled.

Johnson, who is white, kept it honest. She told MSNBC that she is a “60-year-old white woman and they are two young Black men.”

Still, Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, still has to sign a writ of election to set the dates for a future special election because this follows the rules of the expulsion.

The rules of expulsion are very rare, as just two people have been expelled by the chamber since 1866 when six lawmakers were removed after trying to stop Tennessee from ratifying the 14th Amendment, which gave citizenship to former slaves, according to CBS’ WTVF in Nashville.

On Wednesday, U.S. Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Justice Department, requesting an investigation into the expulsions to see if they violated the federal civil rights law.

Vice President Kamala Harris journeyed to Nashville Friday, meeting with Jones, Pearson, and Johnson, who are referred to as the “Tennessee Three.” She told a crowd at Fisk University, a historically Black University, that Jones, Pearson and Johnson “were being silenced and stifled as they fought for the safety of our children.”


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