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Georgia state troopers forcibly arrested a Black state legislator as she peacefully protested the signing of a restrictive voting bill that was signed into law on Thursday (March 26). Rep. Park Cannon was arrested by police after knocking on the door of Gov. Brian Kemp during a live stream announcement of the new voting law.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a report of Cannon’s arrest along with accounts from fellow protesters that gathered at the state Capitol building. Cannon, a Democrat from Atlanta, was seen via video clips posted across social media getting dragged and pushed into a police vehicle.
Cannon was charged with obstruction of law enforcement and disrupting General Assembly sessions per a statement issued by Georgia State Patrol officials. Cannon was released on bond Thursday night.
At the root of the protest was the closed-door nature of Kemp signing a Republican-backed elections bill into law which opponents say restricts the rights of state citizens, and most especially those who are poor and considered minorities. Cannon believed that the people should have been able to witness the bill’s signing into law, as did fellow protestors.
Georgia has become a hotbed of political discourse after former president Donald Trump lost the state in the presidential election after forcing his hand while failing to do so several times over to get the results overturned in his favor.
The law will require identification for absentee ballots, will limit access to voting drop boxes, and will significantly alter early voting hours. The reasons pushed by the bill’s sponsors have appeared murky at best and seem to only serve the red-leaning state’s base although the intentions have been somewhat veiled.
Observers on the ground say that Rep. Cannon’s arrest was an unnecessary and extreme response to someone who was not making a scene from their vantage point.
“She knew he was signing a bill that would affect all Georgians — why would he hide behind closed doors? This isn’t a monarchy,” Tamara Stevens, a local activist, said to AJC. “You have an [woman] 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.”
President Joe Biden blasted the law during a press conference, which Gov. Kemp is essentially defending by stating that the results of November’s election left the Republican base questioning the voting process despite the lack of any real evidence of fraud.
“The Republican voters I know find this despicable, Republican voters, the folks outside this White House. I’m not talking about the elected officials. I’m talking about voters.” President Biden said.
“Why are you arresting her?” This Facebook Live video from @TWareStevens shows the moment authorities detained state Rep. Park Cannon as @GovKemp was behind those doors signing elections restrictions into law. #gapol pic.twitter.com/U1xMJ6tZrY
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) March 25, 2021