April 13, 2021

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Georgia Rep. Park Cannon is arrested and removed from Capitol after protesting new voting restrictions – CBS News

3 min read

Georgia state troopers on Thursday pulled a state lawmaker out of the Capitol and arrested her after she protested the governor as he signed sweeping voting restrictions into law. State Rep. Park Cannon, a Democrat, now faces two felony charges.

Videos posted on social media show Cannon knocking on the door of Governor Brian Kemp’s office as he held a private livestream event to sign the voting measures. Cannon, who represents east Atlanta, was joined by several other protesters challenging the new laws.

The videos show state authorities telling Cannon to move away from the door. After she knocks again, troopers arrest her and then lead her by her arms out of the Capitol. Cannon is heard identifying herself as a lawmaker as she’s being detained.

“Why am I under arrest?” she says. “There is no reason for me to be arrested. I am a legislator!”

Cannon was taken to the Fulton County Jail and charged with obstruction of law enforcement and disrupting a session of the Georgia General Assembly. 

After being released on bond, she posted statements on Twitter saying she would continue to fight voter suppression.

“We will not live in fear and we will not be controlled,” Cannon wrote. “We have a right to our future and a right to our freedom.”

Georgia U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, visited Cannon in jail and contrasted her arrest with the treatment of Trump supporters who led a deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol in January to disrupt the counting of electoral votes.

“I want to know what makes her actions so dangerous, and the actions of those who were trying to undermine an actual election so benign in the minds of some politicians,” Warnock told reporters. “She did not deserve this.”

An attorney representing Cannon, Gerald Griggs, told reporters the arrest was “overreach by law enforcement” and said he would challenge the charges. CBS News has reached out to Griggs for comment.

Georgia State Patrol said in a statement that Cannon went past a barrier at the door that said “Governor’s Staff Only” and “refused to stop knocking on the door” after being warned that she could be arrested for obstruction. 

The bill signed by Kemp, a Republican, adds a photo ID requirement for absentee mail voting, limits ballot drop boxes and cuts back the time people have to request absentee ballots. It also makes it a crime to offer food or water to voters waiting in lines, and transfers some election authority from the secretary of state and county election boards to state lawmakers.

Republicans in Georgia’s legislature swiftly approved the measures, saying they were needed to ensure election integrity.

Democrats and voting rights groups say the law is a blatant attempt to suppress voters — particularly people of color — after Georgia unexpectedly went blue in races that helped Democrats take control of the White House and Senate. 

Lawmakers in at least 43 states have proposed voting restrictions in response to the 2020 election, and Georgia is one of several that has already passed major limits into law. President Biden indirectly called out Georgia in his first press conference, alluding to its voting bills and calling GOP voting restrictions “sick” and “un-American.” 

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