Justin Jones, one of the "Tennessee Three" who organized and led gun reform protests in the State House of Representatives, was reinstated Monday pending a special election in a unanimous vote by Metro Nashville Council members on Apr. 10. A joint statement from House Republicans showed there is a path to reinstatement after expulsion.
Metro Nashville Vote/Jones/https://tennesseestar.com/politics/nashville-metro-council-votes-to-reinstate-democrat-justin-jones-to-the-tennessee-house-of-representatives/khousler/2023/04/11/
Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama's attorney general, and a group of attorneys threatened legal action if Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were not reinstated. The attorneys sent a letter to Speaker Sexton on Monday. The letter argues Jones and Pearson were "merely exercising their constitutional rights." And, of course, right in lockstep, Kamala Harris flew to TN on Apr. 7 to meet with the three activists to talk "freedom and justice"—with little or no mention of the six who lost their lives in the tragic school shooting.
Letter to Speaker Sexton/Apr. 10, 2023
Jones serves in District 52, which also represents parts of Nashville. He will serve in the interim until a special election is called by Governor Lee, probably 30 to 45 days from now. There will be both a Primary and General Election. The General Election will take place in late summer 2023.
They Almost Did It, Danggitt
The Tennessee House of Representatives did what no one thought it would do to three of its representatives on Apr. 3 for breaking "rules of decorum" on the floor. House Reps initially voted to strip three of them of their committee positions and shut off their IDs. By Apr. 5, two, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, were ultimately expelled for rabble-rousing with megaphones and signs on the floor.
Dubbed the "Tennessee Three," Jones from Nashville and Pearson from Memphis, who are both Black and Gloria Johnson from Knoxville, who is white, led a loud protest for gun reform at the Capitol in Nashville on Mar. 30. Johnson escaped expulsion by one vote because she did not hold a sign and did not grab a megaphone. Johnson says she was allowed to remain because she is white.
Republican Representatives Bud Hulsey, Gino Bulso, and Andrew Farmer filed the resolutions. Speaker Cameron Sexton responded to the cries of protesters who believed the Tennessee Three were mistreated by Republicans in the House.
The Triumphant "Hero" Returns
On Apr. 10, Jones raised his fist triumphantly as he marched side by side, arms linked with his comrade Gloria Johnson into the Chamber. Rumor has it Memphis will do the same for Justin Pearson on Wednesday.
Maybe Johnson and Jones were trying to telegraph this kind of stuff; who knows:
Anyway, here's the thing. This kind of cohesive messaging seems to play out repeatedly now because progressives are masters at manipulating the narrative, and conservatives consistently seem happy to comply. And those who aren't paying attention to the details play along. But details matter.
The protests in Nashville resulted from a tragic shooting of six people (three children and three adults) by a Transgender 28-year-old at the Covenant School in Green Hills, just miles from the Capitol. Almost immediately, however, the conversation quickly moved from the real victims of the shooting to characterizing the shooter as a victim because of her transgender identity. At the gun reform rallies, protesters held seven fingers up at the Capitol to signal the transgender shooter as one of the victims.
Then when Jones and Pearson were expelled, protesters predictably cried "racism" because only black people were removed. Conveniently, no one other than house members spoke about the real reasons for the removals. Sadly, by not expelling Johnson, a white woman, House Republicans ultimately and unnecessarily sealed the racist narrative for Jones and Pearson. Maybe in true goody-two-shoes conservative form, House Republicans were trying to be fair. But these three unserious characters immediately made Republicans their useful idiots. This is the dynamic we see over and over again. Republicans refuse to fight fiercely for the cause and lose almost every single time. It is the classic; you give them an inch, and they'll take the mile, scenario playing out repeatedly.
And so it followed. The narrative was locked and loaded. Without even a hint of gratitude for having been spared expulsion, Johnson locks arms with Jones and Pearson to cry "racism" as the reason she was allowed to stay. By the way, just speculation here, but who is to say whether Johnson, Jones, and Pearson didn't agree beforehand to purposely reserve Johnson primly on the side, without a megaphone or sign so that she could later be the patsy for their social justice cause? Knowing their tactics is certainly plausible because, like clockwork, her answer for the outcome was, "It might have to do with the color of our skin."
Many people on the outside do not realize the way Jones and Pearson have behaved in the past. One is a strident activist, and the other seems to be an academy award-winning chameleonic actor on the level of Hillary Clinton.
Justin Jones: Good Activist, Not-So-Good-Legislator
Jones has long been a very prominent local activist. All good, and he comes by it honestly as he hails from Oakland, California. However, his participation in protests in and around the legislature during the George Floyd riots of 2020 led to several arrests and multiple criminal charges. Jones gave a speech near the Capitol in the "Nashville CHAZ" during the George Floyd protests in 2020. Shortly afterward, parts of the city were in flames. Activist, yes, legislator? Mmm.
Jones was charged with "felony aggravated rioting" for standing on top of a cop car. Oddly, he skated. As reported by the Nashville Scene at the time, "The warrants were soon recalled by Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk, who said that neither Jones nor Harris had committed a crime." I asked police officers in the Central Precinct what they thought about the decision. They said he was correctly charged.
Ironically, Funk added charges to Jones' rap list a year later. In 2021, 2 charges were added, totaling 14, due to his participation in the 2020 riots. Jones, of course, called it retaliatory and "an abuse of power," just as good leftists always do. Not even a whisper about his part in the chaos and destruction during the 24/7, 62-day occupation of Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville. Jones allegedly struck a TN State Trooper, Asa Pearl, during the 2020 riots. The assault charge was dismissed by a judge in 2021.
Jones was also charged with assault in 2019 for throwing a cup of tea at Speaker Glen Casada and Rep. Moody in an elevator. Jones, 23 at the time and a divinity student at Vanderbilt University, excused his own behavior because he was frustrated with "white supremacy and voicelessness." Jones was also arrested for refusing to leave a rally held by Marsha Blackburn in October 2018. This is not the behavior of a serious legislator.
Justin Pearson: Actor? Preacher?
Remember the many times we all saw Hillary Clinton speaking in various pandering accents throughout political evolution? Apparently, her accents "map her career." If you don't remember, take a look at this:
Well, as it turns out, we have a runner-up for the "most chameleonic" politician award in Nashville, TN.
Justin Pearson not only speaks differently, but he has also transformed himself to be a man perfect for the time. This is Pearson in 2016, not what you would expect a leftist to look like. Here he is, the picture of the "radical middle, whatever that is. But then look at how he transforms to suit his 2023 partner-in-crime persona, with 'fro and accent to match.
Look, the guy is young. He is probably "finding his voice." That's allowed when you're a youngun'. And his father was a preacher, so he comes by that honestly. Here is Pearson channeling his best preach.
Pearson also graduated from Bowdoin, a private college in Maine whose tuition is close to $60,000. He spent a summer at Princeton studying public policy too. Maybe he is one of those "privileged but not white" activists, fair enough.
Nevertheless, he reverted to his African roots by wearing a dashiki for his swearing-in ceremony on Feb. 9 to "pay homage to his ancestors," knowing it was against the "unanimously approved rules" for the dress code. How did Pearson digest the reprimand from Speaker Sexton, you ask? Shocker. According to Pearson, White Supremacy rears its ugly head again! The business of legislation requires adult behavior. Blaming one's behavior on others is the behavior of a child.
Until conservatives learn how to stand firmly for their principles, they will continue to be distracted and hoodwinked by the Left. They will continue to lose. Pick an issue, cultural or otherwise, and the Left surefootedly unifies, develops its messaging, sticks with it, casts rules to the wind, and fights with unwavering fury. They SHOW UP.
No one says Republicans should break laws or turn into gun-toting marauders on the streets. But Republicans will have to learn to fight more strategically if they mean to win. That means when fate or events turn in their favor—however small the win—they should buckle up, unify without fear, and grow some cajones. It isn't that hard. Just get your ducks in a row. Conservatives would be well-served to take a few pages from the Left and fight as they do. We are way past fair. It isn't even a level playing field at this point.
***This is an opinion article and expresses the author's views.