Justin J. Pearson: Shelby County Board of Commissioners votes to reinstate expelled lawmaker

(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — Less than a week after being ousted by the Tennessee House of Representatives by the Republican supermajority, District 86 representative Justin J. Pearson has just been reinstated by a unanimous vote.

Pearson’s reinstatement comes just two days after Nashville’s Metro Council unanimously voted to reinstate Rep. Justin Jones, the other representative who was expelled last week for his involvement in a gun control rally.

Jones will serve as an interim legislator until a special election is called.

Mickell Lowery, chairman of the Shelby County Commission, announced the special meeting Sunday evening.

Lowery shared he believed the Thursday expulsion of Pearson “was conducted in a hasty manner without consideration of other corrective action methods,” after Pearson, Jones and Rep. Gloria Johnson violated the chamber’s rules of decorum by participating in last month’s protest.

Johnson evaded expulsion by one vote.

“I am amongst the over 68,000 citizens who were stripped of having a representative at the State due to the unfortunate outcome of the State Assembly’s vote,” he said in the statement. “I am certain that the leaders in the State Capitol understand the importance of this action on behalf of the affected citizens here in Shelby County, Tennessee and that we stand ready to work in concert with them to assist with only positive outcomes going forward.”

At the March 30 protest at the Capitol prompted by the Nashville Covenant School shooting three days prior, Jones and Pearson participated and were seen using a bullhorn leading to chants on the House floor, causing a brief interruption in legislative business. Johnson participated also, but was not seen using the bullhorn.

“This was a tragedy that happened at the Covenant School in Nashville. But instead of addressing the tragedy, the Republican super-majority in Tennessee decided that using our First Amendment right to listen to the thousands of protesters deserved expulsion,” Pearson said during an ABC News group sit down interview with Jones and Johnson on Monday.

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners decision comes after an over one mile community march on Monday from The National Civil Rights Museum to the County Commission in support of gun violence prevention and support for the reinstatement of Pearson.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.