State Rep. Park Cannon (D) was arrested Thursday after trying to watch Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sign a new voting bill, SB 202, into law, according to multiple videos and reports from the Georgia Capitol.
Facebook Live video taken by Tamara Stevens, who was at the Capitol to protest the voting bill, shows Cannon knocking on a door where Kemp (R) was holding a news conference about SB 202. Two officers approach Cannon, who steps back from the door and at one point takes some hand sanitizer from a nearby dispenser. When she approaches the door and knocks again, one of the officers tells her, “You’re under arrest,” to the outrage of a group that was there with Cannon.
A live stream of Kemp’s news conference abruptly cut off about seven minutes into the event. Instagram Live video taken by Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, an independent journalist, and posted about the same time the news conference ended, shows two officers taking Cannon through the building and into an elevator, as a group follows them, shouting, “Why are you arresting her?” and “What did she do?!”
Members of the group defending Cannon said later in the video that they were simply trying to watch Kemp sign the bill.
“If Governor Kemp is so proud of this bill and the Georgia GOP is so proud, why are they doing it behind closed doors?” shouted one woman holding a sign that read “SHAME ON THE GEORGIA GOP.”
After the elevator doors closed on Cannon and two officers, the video shows Georgia state Rep. Erica Thomas (D) demanding a moment to speak.
“And all we ask is for her to be able to see them sign a bill that is signing our rights away, and you arrested her!” Thomas shouts. “She did not touch anybody! She did not say any slanderous words … but you’re going to tell me that you arrested a sitting state representative for nothing. She didn’t do anything but knock on the governor’s door. I’m done! I’m so done! I’m so done. Protect and serve who?”
“I’m concerned that this happened,” Griggs told the newspaper. “I’ll fight to get her released.”
It is unclear what charges Cannon is facing. The Georgia Department of Public Safety did not respond to a request for comment or questions about the incident.
SB 202 is one of the first major voting bills to pass as dozens of state legislatures consider restrictions on how ballots are cast and counted in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, when then-President Donald Trump attacked without evidence the integrity of election results in six states he lost, including Georgia.
The legislation imposes new identification requirements for those casting ballots by mail; curtails the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots; allows challenges to voter eligibility; makes it a crime for third-party groups to hand out food and water to voters standing in line; blocks the use of mobile voting vans, as Fulton County did last year after purchasing two vehicles at a cost of more than $700,000; and prevents local governments from directly accepting grants from the private sector.