Tennessee has had its fair share of political drama recently, and it seems that State Representative Justin J. Jones, also known as “Brother Jones,” is at the center of it. Jones, alongside fellow legislators Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson, participated in a heated demonstration at the state capitol, sparking tensions in the legislative chamber. Despite their actions, all three remain in their seats.
Jones, who has been associated with Black Lives Matter, has a somewhat checkered past. Initially expelled from the legislature for his role in the capitol protest, he was quickly reinstated by the Nashville-area Davidson County Board of Commissioners. Pearson experienced a similar fate, being voted back in by Memphis-area Shelby County.
The third legislator, Gloria Johnson, narrowly avoided expulsion by a single vote. Due to the racial background of the involved politicians, the Republican supermajority’s actions have faced accusations of racism.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Jones has been involved in contentious situations. At a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest, he was charged with damaging a police car, although the charges were later withdrawn. And, prior to his 2022 election, Jones was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct for throwing a cup of coffee into an elevator, hitting former House Speaker Glen Casada and State Rep. Debra Moody, both Republicans.
Adding fuel to the fire, a tweet has emerged showing Jones addressing a Nashville BLM crowd shortly before a local courthouse was set ablaze. In the video, Jones uses a bullhorn to rally the crowd, stating, “The white power structure of America has not seen the light. That’s why America is on fire!” These comments, coupled with his past, have raised questions about his suitability for office.
Following the Tennessee capitol demonstration, the expulsion votes for Jones, Pearson, and Johnson were based on their disruptive shouting while being refused recognition.
As the political landscape in Tennessee continues to shift, it’s vital to consider the actions and character of the individuals representing the people. The reemergence of Jones’ controversial past serves as a reminder that the public should hold their elected officials accountable for their conduct, both in and out of the legislative chamber.