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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Georgia Rep. Arrested After Protesting Elections Bill Is ‘Traumatized’ By Experience, Fellow Member Says

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Rep. Park Cannon, the Georgia Democrat who was arrested Thursday after demonstrating outside Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) office over the passage of a new controversial elections bill, is troubled and shell-shocked by the incident after being released on bond hours later, a fellow member said in a television interview Friday.

Key Facts

Georgia state Rep. Erica Thomas (D) told CNN that Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta)—who was arrested and charged with obstruction of law enforcement and disrupting General Assembly sessions on Thursday—was “traumatized” by the experience.

“It’s her right to be able to knock on the governor’s door,” Thomas claimed, adding Kemp “works for all of us.” 

Viral video of the incident shows Cannon standing outside the governor’s office talking with authorities before she knocks on the door and is forcibly escorted in handcuffs out of the Capitol by officers.

“There is no reason for me to be arrested,” Cannon says in footage showing her being dragged out of the Capitol by authorities, “I am a legislator.”

Inside, Kemp was announcing via live stream he had signed a controversial elections bill which would limit voting access in the state. 

Asked if the lawmakers intended to “disrupt” the signing ceremony, Thomas—who was with Cannon during the incident—told CNN the Democrats believed it was their “right” to “witness what was going on,” adding that “usually…the public is allowed to watch” a bill get signed.

Kemp’s office did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment Friday. 

Chief Critic

“We’re going backwards in time, rather than forward,” state Rep. Donna McLeod (D) told CNN Friday. “Rep. Cannon (D-GA) was getting in some good trouble,” referring to Georgia civil rights icon and former congressman John Lewis’ famous line. 

Crucial Quote

“She was advised that she was disturbing what was going on inside and if she did not stop, she would be placed under arrest,” Georgia State Patrol spokesman Lt. W. Mark Riley told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Rep. Cannon refused to stop knocking on the door.” Cannon was involved in a separate incident with Georgia Capitol police last month after she stood in front of an officer’s bullhorn and another officer grabbed her arm to move her away. Cannon and other lawmakers then held a sit-in protest on the stairs of the Capitol.  

Key Background 

The bill—which passed the Georgia assembly and Senate with all Republican support—will implement more stringent requirements for absentee voting, limit the number of drop boxes, and increase the influence of the legislature over elections. The legislation was passed after a tumultuous election last year in the state, which saw President Joe Biden and Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win elections narrowly. Former President Donald Trump sought to delegitimize Biden’s election in the state by launching a public campaign against the Georgia election officials, including Kemp. In January, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and pressed him to “find” votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state despite repeated evidence that Trump lost, but Raffensperger refused. “Significant reforms to our state elections were needed,” Kemp told reporters after signing the bill. “There’s no doubt there were many alarming issues with how the election was handled, and those problems, understandably, led to a crisis of confidence in the ballot box here in Georgia,” he claimed, despite there being no evidence of such, as well as two recounts of the state’s results cementing a Biden victory. Democrats and voting rights activists say the bill is “Jim Crow 2.0.”

Further Reading

Georgia representative arrested after governor signs elections bill (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

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