Credit: Fox News
Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones was reinstated in the statehouse Monday and is now calling for the Republican speaker of the statehouse to resign.
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Jones was one of two Black Democratic lawmakers expelled from the Tennessee legislature last week for leading a gun-control protest in the capital. He called House Speaker Cameron Sexton an “enemy of democracy.”
“He is an enemy of democracy, and he doesn’t deserve to be in that office of a speaker of the house any longer,” Jones told CNN.
Fox News reported:
Sexton did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. The speaker previously said that Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson “deserved expulsion” after they interrupted statehouse proceedings in protest of inaction on gun control following the deadly school shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville.
Jones and another Black Democrat, Justin Pearson, were removed from the legislature in dramatic votes decried as voter disenfranchisement and voter suppression by Democrats. President Biden called the move “shocking, undemocratic and without precedent.” A third lawmaker who participated in the protest, Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson, narrowly avoided expulsion by a single vote.
Johnson, who is White, later suggested that she was not expelled because of the color of her skin. Members of the Tennessee Black Caucus likened the expulsion votes to a “Jim Crow-era trial.”
Sexton has denied accusations of racism. He insists that Jones and Pearson were removed to set a precedent that distrust in House proceedings would not be tolerated.
“In my house on the floor, since I’m speaker, we have rules, we have decorum, we have a process, we have procedures,” he said.
“Imagine that that happened on the congressional floor during his State of the Union address and people took over in front of him, pulled out a bullhorn and started leading the people in chants, a protest from the congressional floor. I don’t think he would approve of that.”
Jones was sent back to the legislature on an interim basis following a unanimous vote by the Nashville Metropolitan Council. State law permits legislative bodies to elect interim representation in the statehouse when there is a vacancy. Pearson could be reappointed as early as Wednesday by the Shelby County Commission.
Special elections will be held for Jones and Pearson’s seats in the next few months. Both men have said they intend to run in their respective elections.
Sexton’s spokesperson, Doug Kufner, indicated that whoever ends up being appointed to the vacancies by the Nashville and Shelby County governments “will be seated as representatives as the constitution requires.”
Fox 17 Nashville reported that Jones was auctioned for using a bullhorn when he joined with protestors, which the state House leaders called “disorderly behavior.”
“We are losing our democracy. This is not normal. This is not OK,” Pearson told reporters.
They “broke a House rule because we’re fighting for kids who are dying from gun violence and people in our communities who want to see an end to the proliferation of weaponry in our communities. And that leads to our expulsion? This is not democracy.”