Two of the ‘Tennessee Three’ are BACK in Congress after being expelled for a rowdy protest against gun control: ‘The Republicans screwed up…now they’re going to find out!’
- Justin Jones, 27; Justin Pearson, 28; and Gloria Johnson, 61, all protested demanding stricter gun control in April: the two young black men were deported
- Jones and Pearson’s case drew national attention and Johnson said the legislature was racist: they were temporarily reinstated a week later
- On Thursday, Jones and Pearson won the special election to officially reinstate them and free them to complete their terms.
Two Tennessee politicians who were kicked out of the state legislature for protesting in favor of tougher gun controls were re-elected on Thursday, securing their return after four months of unrest.
Justin Jones, 27; Justin Pearson, 28; and Gloria Johnson, 61, became known as the Tennessee Three after they were censured by the legislature for their rowdy April protest on the House floor.
Their protest came days after three nine-year-old children and three adults were killed in a shooting at a Nashville school.
Jones and Pearson, who are both black, were deported: Johnson, who is white, avoided deportation and said the legislature was racist.
The two young black men were temporarily reinstated in the legislature after a week, amid a publicity fire – Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Barack Obama all praised them for taking a stand, and Biden invited them to the House Blanche to discuss gun control.
On Thursday, they were both re-elected to their seats in a special election held after the expulsion.
Justin Jones (left) and Justin Pearson (right, with his mother Kimberly) are pictured celebrating their election victories on Thursday
The result means they are reinstated as full members of the legislature and will serve the remainder of their term.
Jones tweeted a photo of House Speaker Cameron Sexton, who had argued the three deserved deportation because they were “disruptive”.
The three said they were only causing a scene because their repeated efforts to organize a gun control debate in the Republican-controlled legislature had been stalled.
“Well, Mr. President, the people have spoken,” Jones tweeted Thursday.
‘The era of DISCOVERING politics has only just begun.
“See you on August 21 for a special session.
Thursday’s election came as lawmakers prepare to return to Nashville later this month for a special session to possibly address changes to the state’s gun control laws.
Nancy Pelosi was among those who tweeted congratulations, telling Jones, “Congratulations on your decisive win and return to the Tennessee Legislature!” So glad the voters sent you back where you belong – seeking justice and opportunity for the people.
Pearson is seen with Joe Biden in the Oval Office on April 24
Jones (left) and Pearson (right) are seen during their eviction hearings on April 6
Jones, who lives in Nashville, was taking on Republican candidate Laura Nelson.
Meanwhile, Pearson, of Memphis, was taking on independent candidate Jeff Johnston.
“I think if we keep running this race there will be win after win after win,” Pearson told supporters on Thursday.
He pointed out that his victory was largely possible because of black women and the organizing work they had done to make him and other politicians successful.
While Jones and Pearson’s re-election to their former positions will not make a significant dent in the Republican supermajority inside the legislature, they are expected to strongly push back against some of the policies of their fellow Republicans.