Police Arrest Georgia Lawmaker As Governor Signs Law Overhauling Elections
Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
Repeatedly knocking on the office door of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp got one state lawmaker arrested at the capitol Thursday.
Democratic state Rep. Park Cannon, a Black woman, continued knocking on Kemp’s office door after Georgia State Patrol troopers instructed her to stop.
Cannon is facing a charge of obstructing law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence and she faces a second charge of disrupting general assembly sessions or other meetings of members.
It’s unclear what was said between Cannon and one state trooper guarding Gov. Kemp’s office door.
Several videos posted online of the incident clearly show arresting officers were told repeatedly Cannon was a state lawmaker.
As she is being pulled away, Cannon identifies herself as a Georgia state lawmaker and demands to know why she is being arrested.
She is seen yelling in one video, “There is no reason for me to be arrested. I am a legislator!”
Other officers then come to block onlookers from interfering. They eventually bring a shouting Cannon backwards outside and into the back of a Georgia State Capitol patrol car.
Cannon is 5’2″, according to her arrest record. Her arrest by several larger, white law enforcement officers and the image of her being brought through the capitol building prompted widespread condemnation on social media overnight. And her arrest prompted comparisons to civil rights and police brutality protests from this summer as well as those of the 1960s.
Georgia’s constitution says lawmakers “shall be free from arrest during sessions of the General Assembly” except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.
Cannon was charged and brought to a local jail. By 11 p.m. she was released, according to her attorney Gerald A. Griggs who spoke to a group of reporters and supporters outside of the jail.
Griggs told the crowd that Cannon sustained bruising from her arrest. He was joined outside of the jail by Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia who visited Cannon in jail. He told the group that he is also Cannon’s pastor.
Warnock said of Cannon, “She is understandably a bit shaken by what happened to her. She didn’t deserve this.”
The senator questioned what made Cannon’s actions “so dangerous” that warranted her arrest.
Cannon tweeted early Friday thanking her supporters and said, “I am 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.”
Griggs said Thursday night the charges against her are trumped up and they intend to fight them.
The law signed by Kemp on Thursday includes new limitations on mail-in voting, expands most voters’ access to in-person early voting and caps a months-long battle over voting in a battleground state.
It has been heavily criticized as a bill that would end up disenfranchising Black voters. It’s also seen as Republicans’ rebuke of the November and January elections in which the state’s Black voters led the election of two Democrats to the senate.