Tennessee state Representative Justin Pearson was sworn in on Thursday after being reappointed to the legislature from which he and a Democratic colleague were expelled for leading a gun protest on the House of Representatives floor.
To applause, whoops and cheers, Pearson stood before a crowd of about 50 supporters and media as he was sworn in on the steps of the Capitol.
“I am so glad to be fighting with you, because victory is ours,” he said, shaking his fist in the air, and then he and the crowd chanted: “Power to the people.”
Leaving the fanfare of cameras and well-wishers at the reinstatement ceremony behind, Pearson entered the statehouse and took his seat.
On Wednesday, Pearson was appointed to his vacated seat by the county legislature that includes his Memphis district. His swearing-in concluded a whirlwind two weeks that made Tennessee the epicenter of U.S. politics.
Tennessee Republicans on April 6 kicked out Pearson and Justin Jones, another young, Black Democrat, as punishment for breaking rules of decorum a week earlier by leading a protest inside the House chamber. The demonstration was prompted by a March 27 school shooting in Nashville in which three children, three adults and the shooter were killed.
“Gun Violence is impacting and hurting every part of our community,” Pearson said on the capitol steps, after reading a list of the recent gun victims. “They tried to expel this movement of justice, but it cannot be stopped.”