November 29, 2023

Two Tennessee lawmakers who were forced out of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature were reinstated this week — and they vowed to continue their call for gun reform.

Justin Jones and Justin J. Pearson — two Black Democrats — had been expelled over a gun control demonstration that took place on the House floor on Friday, April 7. Jones and Pearson led the protest along with fellow Rep. Gloria Johnson, a White Democrat. She was not expelled.

The protest came in the wake of a school shooting last month that left three children and three adults dead in Nashville. Jones, Pearson and Johnson led the protest without being recognized, CNN affiliate WSMV reported, and they used a bullhorn as demonstrators at the Capitol called on lawmakers to take action. A vote was held over rules violations, and Jones and Pearson were then ousted.

State law allows local legislative bodies to appoint interim House members to fill the seats of expelled lawmakers until an election is held. Jones was reappointed Monday by the Nashville Metropolitan Council. Pearson was reappointed Wednesday by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners.

“You cannot expel hope,” a triumphant Pearson told cheering supporters Wednesday. “You can’t expel our voice and you sure can’t expel our fight. We look forward to continuing to fight, continuing to advocate.”

Here are some of the stories that made headlines over the past week, as well as some photos that caught our eye.


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