NASHVILLE — Local officials unanimously voted on Wednesday to send Justin J. Pearson, one of two Black Democratic representatives ousted from the Tennessee House of Representatives after a gun control protest on the House floor, back to his seat in the state legislature.
The vote came less than a week after Mr. Pearson of Memphis and State Representative Justin Jones of Nashville were abruptly expelled from the legislature, just the third time such a punishment has been used in the state House since the Civil War era. Angered by the disruption of the protest and the disregard for House rules, Republicans quickly moved to expel the pair, though an effort to remove Representative Gloria Johnson, a white lawmaker from Knoxville, failed.
The expulsions of two of the chamber’s youngest Black lawmakers infuriated Democrats, who were already frustrated with their inability to counter the Republican supermajority, and further galvanized the hundreds of demonstrators who repeatedly marched to the State Capitol to call for tougher gun laws after the Covenant School shooting that left three students and three staff members dead.
Pearson could be back to the Tennessee house as early as this week.