Democratic Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon was arrested and reportedly charged with two felonies late Thursday for knocking on Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s office door as he signed into law a sweeping voter suppression bill that aims to curtail ballot drop boxes, impose more strict voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, and give the GOP legislature significant control over the state election board.
Video footage posted online shows Cannon, who represents Georgia’s 58th House district, exchanging words with a state trooper standing in front of Kemp’s closed office door as the governor moved to grant the omnibus election bill final approval just hours after the 96-page measure cleared both the House and Senate Thursday afternoon.
“The governor is signing a bill that affects all Georgians,” a person standing behind Cannon said as the lawmaker spoke with the state trooper. “Why is he doing it in private? And why is he trying to keep elected officials who are representing us out of the process?”
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When Cannon began knocking on the governor’s door and continued after being told to stop, two state troopers detained her and removed her from the building as activists protested the arrest.
“There is no reason for me to be arrested. I am a legislator!” Cannon yelled at one point.
“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
Cannon was released hours later and, according to an arrest affidavit seen by CNN, is facing “two felony charges — felony obstruction and preventing or disrupting general assembly session.” Gerald Griggs, one of Cannon’s attorneys, said the lawmaker’s team intends to “vigorously defend against these charges.”
In a series of tweets early Friday morning, Cannon wrote that she is “not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression.”
“I’d love to say I’m the last, but we know that isn’t true. But someday soon that last person will step out of jail for the last time and breathe a first breath knowing that no one will be jailed again for fighting for the right to vote,” the lawmaker continued. “We will not live in fear and we will not be controlled. We have a right to our future and a right to our freedom. We will come together and continue fighting white supremacy in all its forms.”
Charged with felony obstruction. This is an absolute outrage. https://t.co/sZ1p9RvSli
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) March 26, 2021
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
Shortly after the arrest, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) — the senior pastor of the church Cannon attends — arrived at the Atlanta jail where she was being held and addressed activists and reporters, saying, “Today is a very sad day for the state of Georgia.”
“What we have witnessed today is a desperate attempt to lock out and squeeze the people out of their own democracy,” said Warnock. “This effort to silence the voices of Georgians who stood up in the historic election in November and January will not stand.”