The Slatest

Black Lawmaker Arrested in Georgia Capitol for Trying to Attend Governor’s Voting Restriction Bill Signing

A Democratic state representative in Georgia was arrested and removed from the state Capitol Thursday evening after trying to attend a ceremony celebrating Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s signing of a new law making it harder to vote. Video of the scene shows Rep. Park Cannon, who is Black, calmly attempting to enter the signing ceremony and subsequent press conference being held in the governor’s Capitol office. Cannon can be seen approaching and lightly knocking on the closed doors before being intercepted by state troopers. In a brief, subdued encounter that was more a mild-mannered registering of protest than a provocation, Cannon was abruptly handcuffed and hauled out of the Capitol. It took the state troopers all of 50 seconds from the time Cannon first tapped on the door to handcuff and arrest her.

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Meanwhile, inside Kemp’s office:

Cannon was taken from the Capitol, placed in a police car, and held at Fulton County Jail until she was released on bond Thursday evening.

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The lawmaker was charged with obstruction of law enforcement and disrupting General Assembly sessions, both of which are felonies. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that court documents stated Cannon was charged with “ ‘knowingly and intentionally’ knocking on the governor’s door during a bill signing and stomping on Officer L.T. Langford’s foot three times.” The arrest warrant said: “The accused continued kicking on LT Langford with her heels.”

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The arrest is an affront, as is the Georgia bill passed in response to the 2020 election that Georgia Republicans, for the first time in decades, lost. Despite finding no credible claims of voter fraud or systemic irregularities of any kind in multiple recounts and audits, Georgia Republicans leveraged GOP outrage stemming from Donald Trump’s election fraud fiction. The Georgia law is the first restrictive voting law to pass in a nationwide push by Republicans in the name of “election integrity.” Some of the most noxious parts of the original bill, like requiring an excuse for voters to vote by mail and cutting weekend early voting hours popular among Democrats, were ultimately stripped due to a Democratic outcry.

In addition to a number of inoffensive administrative changes, however, the new law still adds new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, restricts the use of absentee drop boxes, empowers electors to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of voters, and gives state election officials the power to take over local elections boards. The new law also criminalizes distributing food and water to voters waiting in line.

Cannon called the law “Jim Crow in a suit and tie.”

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