NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The crowd outside of Nashville’s Historic Metro Courthouse cheered, “Whose House? Our House!” on Monday after Tennessee House Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) regained his House seat in an unanimous vote. Jones was one of two young Black Democrats who were controversially expelled from the state’s GOP-led House of Representatives last week for their participation in a gun reform protest in the chamber.
From the courthouse to the steps of the Capitol, hundreds walked alongside Jones.
“This is about people power,” Jones told the crowd. “People power is the ultimate power — not the decision of Speaker Cameron Sexton, but the people of Tennessee.”
Jones’ words point back to last week, when Tennessee House Speaker Sexton compared Jones’ session interruption to the Jan. 6 insurrection, despite there being no arrests or injuries.
“If this is not what rises to the level of expulsion then tell me what does,” Sexton said at the time.
News of Jones’ (and that of House Rep. Justin J. Pearson) made national headlines. Collectively, Jones, Pearson and House Rep. Gloria Johnson were referred to as the “Tennessee Three.” Sixty-year-old Johnson, who is white and also participated in the chamber protest on gun reform, was not ultimately expelled.
On Monday, Nashville Mayor John Cooper called for the council to unanimously vote to reinstate Jones, which happened shortly after.
“I want to welcome the people back to the people’s house,” said Jones on Monday. “I come here to stand with my constituents, with the people of Tennessee to say that no unjust attack on democracy will happen unchallenged — that the abuse of this body will not happen in the comfort of silence.”
Jones is now calling for Speaker Sexton’s resignation.
“His [Sexton’s] actions on Thursday — he thought would happen as all his other abuses of power. He thought that no one would pay attention, that no one was watching. That they had ultimate authority, but they forgot that the people would show up and were watching,” said Jones.
Monday’s unanimous vote from Nashville Metropolitan Council was met with cheers, as Jones hugged a former political opponent, Council member Delishia Porterfield. Porterfield even helped send Jones back to the statehouse by nominating him for his old seat, calling his expulsion “a miscarriage of justice and an egregious assault on our democracy.”
Jones said Monday’s events were confirmation that he’s “on the right path.”