NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Just outside the Historic Metro Courthouse, Justin Jones (D—Nashville) addressed hundreds, as the crowd chanted, “Whose house? Our house!”
Inside the courthouse, Nashville’s leaders fought back.
“We witnessed a miscarriage of justice and an egregious assault on our democracy which resulted in over 70,000 Davidson County voters, our voters, being silenced when our representative was expelled,” said Councilwoman Delishia Porterfield.
Porterfield, who was Jones’ former political opponent, helped to send him back to the statehouse by nominating him for his old seat.
“The most important message is that we’re going to protect democracy at all costs. We’re not going to back down from that,” said Porterfield. “I also wanted to send a message of civility. We both ran for the community we both love. There’s no reason we can’t work together to fight for what’s right.”
The special meeting centered around Jones and came after he was expelled from his House seat, for interrupting the session to protest for gun reform. At the time, Tennessee’s House Speaker compared it to the Jan. 6 insurrection, despite no arrests or injuries.
“If this is not what rises to the level of expulsion then tell me what does,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton at the time.
Four days later, Nashville’s mayor called for change.
“That voice was taken away this past week, so let’s give them their voice back, and I call on this body to vote unanimously right now to do just that,” said Mayor John Cooper ahead of the Metro Council vote.
“Our community members are more than capable of selecting their representative and their will should have never been undermined,” said Porterfield.
The unanimous vote from Metro Council was met with cheers, as Porterfield and Jones hugged.
From the courthouse to the steps of the Capitol, hundreds walked alongside Jones. Chants and cheering could be heard every step of the way.
“The Tennessee Three will always be with the community,” chanted Councilwoman Sharun Hurt.
“We start here, with this movement making sure we get Justin Jones, Justin Pearson back into their rightfully elected seat,” said Odessa Kelly.
As Jones moved through a crowd full of supporters, he said, “This is about people power, people power is the ultimate power not the decision of Speaker Cameron Sexton, but the people of Tennessee.”
As he was sworn in on the steps of the Capitol, cheers erupted from the crowd. Going back inside the House, his supporters chanted him on.
“Speaking I want to welcome the people back to the people’s house,” said Jones. “I come here to stand with my constituents, with the people of Tennessee to say that no unjust attack on democracy will happen unchallenged, that the abuse of this body will not happen in the comfort of silence.”
Jones made a new call for action, asking for Speaker Sexton to resign.
“His actions on Thursday, he thought would happen as all his other abuses of power, he thought that no one would pay attention that no one was watching, that they had ultimate authority, but they forgot that the people would show up and were watching,” said Jones.
Jones said Monday is confirmation that he’s “on the right path.”