NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Just days after his fellow lawmakers expelled him, Justin Jones was reinstated.
Hundreds of supporters gathered in the plaza outside the council chamber chanting “No Justin, No Peace,” ahead of the special called 4:30 p.m. meeting with Metro Council.
The first order of business was the vote to suspend the rules, a step to expedite the process of filling the District 52 seat.
“I have received probably 800 emails from folks and literally 99% of them are asking for us to please put Justin Jones back in his seat and so that’s what I will do,” District 15 Council Member Jeff Syracuse told News 2.
Around two dozen Metro Council members vowed, ahead of the meeting, that they would vote to reappoint Jones, a vote that passed unanimously.
“Where there may have been a censure or a reprimand may have been warranted pursuant to rules for breaking decorum, expelling them from their seats was the wrong action,” said Syracuse.
District 19 Council Member Freddie O’Connell agreed, calling the national spectacle “unbelievably embarrassing for Tennessee.”
With hundreds of supporters outside, dozens gathered inside the council chamber, cheering as Jones greeted them and took a seat on the front row. Just minutes before the decision Jones stood on a pew addressing the crowd before singing the Gospel song “I’ve Got a Feeling (Everything’s Gonna Be Alright).”
O’Connell and Syracuse said they are eager to move forward with the focus shifted back on gun violence, saying there is an opportunity in the coming weeks with bipartisan common sense gun safety measures on the table in Tennessee.
“If any of these votes are close, if any of these bipartisan measures are close over the next few weeks while they are still in session for gun safety measures it is terrible for the prospect that we might be down two members who would be voting in favor of these, right? So having Representative Jones there matters legislatively, having Pearson there matters legislatively and my hope is that Memphis follows Nashville and quickly reinstates Representative Pearson,” stated O’Connell.
Council worked quickly to have Jones reappointed and back to the State Capitol in time for roll call at 5 p.m.