Georgia state troopers arrested Democratic state Rep. Park Cannon on Thursday after she knocked on Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s statehouse office door as he signed a controversial elections bill into law in a closed-door ceremony.
Video of the incident shows Cannon, who as a lawmaker also works at the statehouse, being handcuffed after she knocked on Kemp’s door, arguing for transparency of the bill signing. She was then removed from the Capitol, while repeatedly identifying herself as a legislator, and placed into a police car.
A flurry of bills have been introduced and passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures to tighten voting laws after former President Donald Trump lost the election and baselessly challenged the outcome.
Cannon, who is Black, was charged with two misdemeanors under state law: obstruction of law enforcement and preventing or disrupting General Assembly, according to police.
She was taken to the Fulton County Jail. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., arrived there shortly after and was greeted by a small cheering crowd. Cannon was released Thursday evening.
“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 tweeted after her release. “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.”
Lt. W. Mark Riley, spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol, said in a statement Thursday evening that Cannon was warned to stop knocking on the door because the area reserved was for the governor’s staff.
“She was advised that she was disturbing what was going on inside and if she did not stop, she would be placed under arrest. Rep. Cannon stepped back for a moment and then stepped back up to the door and started knocking on the door again,” Riley said. “She was again advised if she did not stop, she would be arrested for obstruction and disturbing the press conference.”
Cannon was among several people who were protesting Thursday at the statehouse after passage of stricter limits on voting, which followed weeks of debate in the Georgia Legislature. The new law adds a host of restrictions, including changes in identification requirements for mail voting and making it illegal to bring food or water to voters in line to cast a ballot.
Kemp signed the bill into law immediately, calling it “common sense” legislation while aligning himself with former President Donald Trump in remarks touting the bill.
Trump baselessly claimed the Georgia election was stolen from him, pressured Republican election officials to investigate, and dismissed their assertions that the election had been secure and that the results were accurate. Kemp said he and state lawmakers set out to make it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, the founder of voting rights group Fair Fight, said in a statement that the law was “blatantly unconstitutional” and “nothing less than Jim Crow 2.0.”
Newly elected U.S. Sen. John Ossoff, D-Ga., tweeted support for Cannon, saying, “I stand with Rep. Park Cannon… who was arrested and CHARGED WITH A FELONY for … for what?”