UPDATED: 1:00 p.m. ET, March 26
Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon was released from jail late Thursday evening following her arrest on two felony counts for opposing a new law that will make it harder for Black and brown people to vote in the Peach State. She thanked her supporters for their well-wishes and vowed to continue to fight for what is right.
“I saw a state representative knocking on the door of the governor, and she was arrested,” Warnock said, drawing a contrast to the law enforcement response to the attempted cup of Jan. 6. “Meanwhile, we saw a violent insurrection attack on the United States Capitol, and police officers died in that case.”
Police in Georgia on Thursday night forcibly arrested a Black woman state legislator peacefully and nonviolently protesting the governor signing a new law that increases statewide voting restrictions expected to disproportionately affect Black people.
Video footage showed Democratic Rep. Park Cannon being handcuffed and literally dragged out of the state capitol building because she simply knocked on the office door of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp while he was in the process of signing the controversial legislation. She was charged with two felonies.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Cannon insisted that the signing of the bill not take place in private and instead should allow the public to witness. Instead, the police not only decided that the best move was to handcuff a sitting state legislator but to also pull her down a hallway as bystanders recorded the arrest and demanded Cannon be freed.
The Georgia State Patrol — the law enforcement agency that arrested Cannon — did not express any misgivings for the high-profile arrest and the damning optics that dragging a handcuffed Black elected official would present.
“She was advised that she was disturbing what was going on inside and if she did not stop, she would be placed under arrest,” Georgia State Patrol spokesperson Lt. W. Mark Riley told the Journal-Constitution. “Rep. Cannon refused to stop knocking on the door.”
A Journal-Constitution reporter tweeted two separate warrants for Cannon’s arrest, one of which claimed she was “kicking” an officer with her heels.
While Cannon wasn’t charged with assault, she was charged with “Preventing or Disrupting General Assembly Sessions or Other Meetings or Members” and “Willful Obstruction Of Law Enforcement Officers By Use Of Threats Or Violence. Both are felony charges.
Video footage showed newly elected Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock at the jail where Cannon was being held Thursday night.
Civil rights attorney Gerald A. Griggs, who reportedly plans to represent Cannon, tweeted an excerpt from the Georgia State Constitution suggesting the legislator was falsely arrested. However, Cannon’s felony charges apparently made her eligible for the arrest.
The new law in question effectively makes it much harder to vote by putting additional hurdles and restrictions in place. The Republican-led effort stems from apparent resentment that Georgia voted Democrat and flipped the state blue in the 2020 election, thanks in no small part to Black women like Cannon. The new law all but validates Republicans’ false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 elections.
One of the measures in the new law specifically addresses absentee ballots, which became the preferred method to vote because of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. The new law requires people who want to vote away from polling places to first submit a copy of their ID with their applications for absentee ballots, and then do the same thing again when they return the actual ballot.
Voting rights advocates raised concerns about people’s ability to get a copy of their ID. The mandate would require people to either have access to a printer or be able to get to a retail printing location.
Voting rights icon Stacey Abrams called the new law the result of “desperation” and “cowardice.”