Georgia state lawmaker arrested protesting Kemp’s signing of sweeping voting bill
A Democratic Georgia state lawmaker was arrested by state troopers and charged on Thursday after she knocked on Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) door multiple times as he signed a controversial voting bill into law.
Police told The Hill that Rep. Park Cannon (D) was taken to the Fulton County Jail, where she was charged with obstruction of law enforcement, as well as “Preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings of members.”
Late Thursday night, NAACP Attorney Gerald Griggs confirmed to reporters that the representative had been released during an impromptu press gaggle outside the jail. He added that Cannon sustained bruises during her arrest.
“We had an African American woman who was standing up for the voices of millions of Georgia voters,” Griggs said.
Griggs added that he intends to get Cannon absolved of all charges.
Lt. W. Mark Riley, Georgia State Patrol’s public information director, said in a statement to The Hill that Cannon began knocking on the door to Kemp’s office as he hosted a livestreamed event for the bill’s signing.
Police said that the governor’s ceremonial office door was marked with a “Governor’s Staff Only” sign, along with stanchions blocking off the door.
“Rep. Cannon continued to knock on the door and was instructed again to stop knocking on the door,” Riley told The Hill. “She was advised that she was disturbing what was going on inside and if she did not stop, she would be placed under arrest.”
Riley said that after Cannon “stepped back for a moment,” she then proceeded to continue knocking on the door.
“She was again advised if she did not stop, she would be arrested for obstruction and disturbing the press conference,” he added. “Rep. Cannon refused to stop knocking on the door,” and was then “placed under arrest and escorted out of the Capitol.”
The controversial bill in question includes voting restrictions such as limiting the use of ballot drop boxes and setting photo ID requirements for absentee voting. It has been widely condemned by Democrats who claim the legislation was largely fueled by recent Republican electoral losses in 2020 and early 2021.
A Facebook Live video later shared on Twitter showed some of the interaction, in which Cannon stood in front of a police officer and can be seen moving past him to knock on the door before she was placed in handcuffs.
“Why are you arresting her?” This Facebook Live video from @TWareStevens shows the moment authorities detained state Rep. Park Cannon as @GovKemp was behind those doors signing elections restrictions into law. #gapol pic.twitter.com/U1xMJ6tZrY
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) March 25, 2021
Additional footage posted on Twitter showed multiple police officers escorting a handcuffed Cannon through the Capitol building as other protesters repeatedly questioned, “Why are you arresting her?”
This is insane: Georgia Dem rep @Cannonfor58 was arrested for trying to watch Brian Kemp sign new voter suppression bill. Look at how she is treated by police. This is straight out of Jim Crow pic.twitter.com/zRpMWumbkQ
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) March 25, 2021
Tamara Stevens, who posted the Facebook Live video, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Cannon was not causing a disturbance, adding it was within her rights to witness the governor’s signing of the bill.
“She knew he was signing a bill that would affect all Georgians — why would he hide behind closed doors? This isn’t a monarchy,” Stevens said. “You have a woman of color fighting for the rights of Georgians and they arrested her for knocking on the door because she wanted to witness our governor sign the bill.”
Fellow Democratic state Rep. Erica Thomas said Cannon was “doing her job as an elected official.”
“She was asking where the governor was and where the bill was being signed,” Thomas added, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Cannon, 24, is Georgia’s youngest lawmaker and one of three openly gay lawmakers elected to the state House in 2016, according to CNN.
The lawmaker is also a parishioner at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., where Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) was a senior pastor.
Updated Friday, March 26, 12:08 a.m.
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