Georgia lawmaker arrested for knocking on Gov. Kemp’s door amid election bill
Voting rights groups in Georgia say the new law will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color
Georgia Rep. Park Cannon was detained by police Thursday evening for knocking on Gov. Brian Kemp’s door and demanding to see him sign into law bill SB202, which enables new restrictions on voting by mail.
Kemp drew protests Thursday over the bill which voting rights groups say will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color. Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the law requires a photo ID to vote absentee by mail, limits drop boxes and changes early voting hours.
The Republican-sponsored overhaul to voting laws in Georgia is reportedly part of a slate of election bills introduced after the record-breaking turnout that led to former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat. Voters also turned up and showed out in the once red state for two U.S. Senate runoffs that led to Democratic victories.
Democratic lawmakers who oppose the bill say it is based on lies told by Republicans that Joe Biden won the presidency through fraud.
“Georgians turned out in record-breaking numbers because they could access the ballot,” Democratic Rep. Rhonda Burnough said. “Lies upon lies were told about our elections in response, and now this bill is before us built on those same lies.”
The Georgia state senate passed SB202 on Thursday. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler said the bill is filled with “voter suppression tactics.”
“We are witnessing right now a massive and unabashed assault on voting rights unlike anything we’ve seen since the Jim Crow era,” Butler added.
Cannon was with about 10 protestors, including Democratic state Rep. Erica Thomas when she interrupted Gov. Kemp’s livestreamed announcement that he had signed the election bill into law.
Videos shared to social media on Thursday (March 25) show Cannon requesting she be allowed inside the room while Kemp signed the bill. One onlooker is heard saying, “The Governor is signing a bill that affects all Georgians. Why is he doing it in private, and why is he trying to keep elected officials who are representing us out of the process?”
When Cannon knocks on Kemp’s door, she is arrested by Capitol police. The officers forcibly remove her, drag Cannon through the Capitol and push her into a police car. Protestors are heard repeatedly asking, “Why are you arresting her?”
“She knew he was signing a bill that would affect all Georgians — why would he hide behind closed doors? This isn’t a monarchy,” said Tamara Stevens, who was with Cannon. “You have a women 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.”
Rep. Erica Thomas said Cannon didn’t do anything illegal since Georgia Constitution states legislators are “free from arrest during sessions of the General Assembly.”
”She was doing her job as an elected official,” Thomas said. “She was asking where the governor was and where the bill was being signed.”
After being released late Thursday, Rep. Cannon took to Twitter to thank everyone for their support.
“I’ve been released from jail. 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,” she tweeted.
“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.”
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