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GA state rep arrested while protesting passage of bill that rolls back voting rights

Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon
Posted at 9:13 AM, Mar 26, 2021

A Georgia state representative was arrested Thursday after she knocked on the door to Gov. Brian Kemp’s office as he signed a bill that curtailed voting rights in the state.

State Rep. Park Cannon, a Democrat, was arrested Thursday night as fellow lawmakers and activists protested the passage of a bill that adds new restrictions on voting by mail and gives the Republican-controlled legislature greater control over how elections are run.

Video shared on social media showed Cannon speaking with police officers stationed outside Kemp’s office. During the discussion, Cannon knocked on the door, at which point, officers placed her in handcuffs and escorted her out of the Capitol.

It's unclear what Park said to the officers, or what happened in the moments leading up to the start of the video.

According to the Associated Press, Cannon was charged with felony obstruction of law enforcement, punishable by one to five years in prison, and with disrupting a session of the General Assembly. She was released later on Thursday.

“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,” Cannon wrote on Twitter upon her release from jail. “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 Georgia bill is just one of hundreds proposed by Republicans in nearly every state that seek to tighten election laws on the basis of voter fraud, despite there being little evidence of fraud in the 2020 election.

In Georgia, a state that flipped from Republican to Democrat in the 2020 presidential election, there were just 35 cases of election fraud that resulted in criminal charges, out of more than 9 million votes cast between the general election and January Senate runoff. A number of the charges were for felons attempting to register or non-citizens attempting to register.

Cannon on Thursday linked the GOP’s bill as an attempt to keep people of color from voting.

“And make no mistake, when I say hate, I mean white supremacy. The closed-door signing of #SB202 and the senseless murder of #AAPI Georgians are both products of a white supremacist system. Different tactics, same goal: fear and control,” Cannon wrote. “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.”

The U.S. Congress is considering legislation that would call on states to expand mail-in and no-excuse absentee voting while eliminating photo ID requirements. Though the bills face an uphill path to passage in the Senate, they have already passed the House and have the backing of President Joe Biden.