OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 3:29 PM – Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Justin J. Pearson was reinstated to the Tennessee House of Representatives on Wednesday by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners after they approved his appointment as an interim representative for the House District 86 seat.
The vote to appoint Pearson passed 7-0.
Following the decision, Pearson gave a statement to his supporters. The 28-year-old had a rally of support that was a mile away at the National Civil Rights Museum in front of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners meeting.
“You cannot expel hope,” Pearson said. “You can’t expel our voice and you sure can’t expel our fight. We look forward to continuing to fight, continuing to advocate.”
The board voted to suspend a rule that would have mandated a waiting period between his nomination and confirmation, restoring Pearson to the seat that was made vacant last Thursday when the GOP-dominated chamber kicked him out.
Pearson vacated the House District 86 seat last week when he was ousted by the GOP-dominated body in a two-thirds majority vote after he and two Democrat colleagues, Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Gloria Johnson, took part in a protest demanding gun reform on the chamber floor. Jones, Pearson and Johnson took to the state House floor to advocate for gun control, using a bullhorn to address their colleagues and demonstrators who had gathered at the Capitol.
Republicans filed three resolutions calling for the removal of the trio, accusing them of “knowingly and intentionally” bringing “disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives” while speaking without being recognized. The vote to oust Jones and Pearson took place last Thursday, and the expelled representatives criticized the decision as being undemocratic and racist.
In an interview with CNN, Pearson said that the Louisville shooting was a “painful moment of recognition that our legislators and people like Cameron Sexton and the Republican Party in Tennessee and across the South in this country are not doing nearly enough to prevent guns from getting in the hands of people and doing all of the holistic work of gun prevention that is necessary in places across our communities.”
Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton has previously stated that he would not stand in the way of the appointments should local officials choose to send Jones and Pearson back to the chamber.
According to sources, Senate Democrats are now calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Tennessee Republicans for constitutional and civil rights violations for expelling Justin Jones and Justin Pearson.
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