Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon (D) was arrested and charged with felony obstruction on Thursday night after she protested the signing of a restrictive new bill that will dramatically limit access to voting for communities of color.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported that Cannon, a Black woman who has served in the Georgia House of Representatives since 2016, was detained by Georgia State Patrol officers after she attempted to witness the signing of the law. The Republican-led Georgia legislature passed the measure on Thursday, which will impose new identification requirements on those who vote by mail, limit the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots and make it illegal for voting groups to give food or water to people standing in line to cast their ballots.
Clips from a live-streamed video show Cannon knocking on the door of Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) office after speaking with Georgia State Patrol officers. The officers then place her under arrest.
Cannon said late Thursday she had been released from jail, adding she was “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 wrote on Twitter. “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.”
In a statement, the Georgia State Patrol said Cannon was “beating on the door” to the governor’s office and had been warned several times that she should stop.
“She was advised that she was disturbing what was going on inside and if she did not stop, she would be placed under arrest,” the agency said in a statement.
Cannon was arrested and taken to Fulton County Jail, where she was charged with two offenses: felony obstruction of law enforcement and a misdemeanor of preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings of members.
“She was doing her job as an elected official,” state Rep. Erica Thomas (D) told the Journal-Constitution after the arrest. “She was asking where the governor was and where the bill was being signed.”
Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, said the day was a reminder of the state’s “dark past.”
This is not the first time Kemp has been embroiled in controversy over the arrest of elected officials. In 2010, the state government, operating under Kemp’s authority, arrested 12 Black women who won seats in a school board election and charged them with 120 felonies.