Fury as Georgia congresswoman arrested and hauled out of state capitol after knocking on governor’s door

‘You have a woman of colour 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’

Louise Hall
Friday 26 March 2021 13:16 GMT
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Georgia congresswoman arrested and hauled out of Capitol
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A Georgia representative has been arrested and dragged off the state capitol grounds while protesting the signing of a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections.

Rep Park Cannon was arrested on Thursday after she knocked on Republican Gov Brian Kemp’s statehouse office door to protest the signing of the voting reform bill, which critics say is designed to make it harder for African Americans to vote.

Video of the incident shows Ms Cannon, who is Black, handcuffed with her arms behind her back while being taken away by police. She repeatedly identifies herself as a legislator and asks why she is being arrested. Footage of her arrest shows other people asking why she is being detained without answer.

Ms Cannon was charged with felony obstruction of law enforcement, punishable by one to five years in prison, and with disrupting a session of the General Assembly.

Democrats and voting rights groups have condemned the passage of the bill as they say the law will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of colour.

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Mr Kemp signed the voting reform bill less than two hours after it cleared the Georgia General Assembly on Thursday.

The legislation is one of a wave of GOP-backed election bills introduced in states around the country after former President Donald Trump stoked false fraud claims regarding the 2020 election.

Following the election in November, Mr Trump refused to accept his loss by about 12,000 votes in Georgia, long a Republican stronghold.

The former president lobbied to overturn the result by undermining confidence in the voting system in the state and falsely suggesting the ballot had been rigged.

“Georgians turned out in record-breaking numbers because they could access the ballot,” Democratic Rep Rhonda Burnough said.

“Lies upon lies were told about our elections in response, and now this bill is before us built on those same lies.”

Rep Cannon was released late on Thursday night, NAACP Attorney Gerald Griggs confirmed to reporters. He said that she had sustained bruises during her arrest, The Hill reported.

“We had an African American woman who was standing up for the voices of millions of Georgia voters,” Mr Griggs said, according to the outlet.

He says that he intends to get Ms Cannon absolved of all charges.

CNN reported that Georgia State Patrol claimed that Ms Cannon "was beating on the door to the Governor’s Office," at around 6.30pm.

“Rep Cannon continued to knock on the door and was instructed again to stop knocking on the door,” Lieutenant W Mark Riley, Georgia State Patrol’s public information director, told The Hill.

“She was advised that she was disturbing what was going on inside and if she did not stop, she would be placed under arrest.”

Tamara Stevens, who posted some of the footage of the arrest online told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Rep Cannon was not causing a disturbance

“She knew he was signing a bill that would affect all Georgians — why would he hide behind closed doors? This isn’t a monarchy,” Ms Stevens said.

“You have a woman of colour 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.”

The controversial bill includes sweeping voting restrictions such as limiting the use of ballot drop boxes, cutting the time people have to request an absentee ballot, and setting photo ID requirements for absentee voting.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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