Tennessee State Rep. Justin J. Pearson ’17 was reinstated Wednesday to his House seat on an interim basis.
After being expelled on April 6 along with fellow representative Justin Jones for staging a gun rights protest on the House floor, protests broke out throughout the state and country to support their reinstatement.
According to Tennessee county laws, county officials can elect individuals to fill vacant House seats on an interim basis. Thus, both Jones and Pearson were appointed to fill the spots they were expelled from by the Nashville Metro Council and Shelby County Commission, respectively.
Pearson only missed a day of voting and will remain in the seat for the rest of the session. He will face a special election later this year to retain the seat.
His reinstatement on Wednesday was received with a standing ovation from both the commission and dozens of observers and supporters.
“We went to the well of the House—myself, Representative Johnson and Representative Jones. We said we have an allegiance to people who are tired of business as usual; people who are tired of same old, same old politics; people who are tired of same old, same old politicians,” Pearson said at the commission meeting following his reinstatement. “We have people that we have an allegiance to who are willing to march for justice; who are willing to fight for justice; who are willing to vote for justice. And it is that spirit that I will bring back to Nashville.”
Despite scattered criticism of Pearson following his reinstatement, the Bowdoin community and students continue to show unwavering support for his fight for justice and legacy at the College.