To underline or emphasize the ridiculousness of what happened in the Tennessee legislature last week, NBC News reported that Tennessee House leaders called the actions of Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson an “insurrection.” If it weren’t for the ramification of the expulsion of Pearson and Jones, this comment would be laughable. The people who undertook a deadly and destructive rampage of the nation’s Capitol were called “tourists” by many Republicans. Yet, two young men and one female standing with their constituents is an “insurrection.” They can call it whatever they like, but we know the truth of what happened-and so does the Nashville Metropolitan Council.
The Nashville Metropolitan Council did the right thing. That body voted 36-0 to reappoint Justin Jones to the state house. Talking Points Memo described the mood at the council session, which was attended by protesters in and outside of the meeting room, singing and chanting in support of Justin Jones. Interestingly, the motion to appoint Justin Jones back into his seat was brought by Delishia Porterfield, the candidate he defeated to win the seat. Apparently, the Republican House leaders who claimed Jones (Pearson and Johnson) “brought disorder” to the house are the only ones who see things that way.
Both Pearson and Jones were deleted from the Tennessee General Assembly’s website, with their districts listed as “vacant.” Accordingly, the council appointed Jones as “interim representative” until such time as a special election can be held, not that anyone in their right mind would run against him right now. He has been elevated to star status.
According to the Intelligencer, the Shelby County Board of Commissioners has scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday, April 12 to determine whether Pearson should be reinstated as temporary representative until a special election is held. Cameron Sexton, speaker of the Tennessee House, has intimated that he might well attempt to kick them out again, but counsel for both men, which includes former Attorney General Eric Holder, had a warning for the House: “The world is watching Tennessee,” and they specifically addressed a warning to Sexton, against “interfering with their reappointments.”
These two men did absolutely nothing wrong. In fact, they did everything right. They joined a group of protestors on gun reform-a group comprised of teachers, children, and parents. These people want their children to go to school for their educations without fear of senseless gun violence. Hundreds if not thousands reached out to house members and made their feelings known, and that likely helped the Council come to the right decision. Hopefully, Memphis will also make the right decision. The people stood up for the representatives who stood up for them.
This is the way democracy is supposed to work. We are not a dictatorship or autocracy where those in charge can impose their will on the masses. Too many innocent people have been killed by this lackadaisical attitude toward guns, many of whom were children. This needs to stop, and if we have representatives who are bold enough to stand up for it, they should be supported, not punished for doing the right thing.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years