Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) recently denounced the arrest of Georgia Democratic state Rep. Park Cannon, who was charged with felony obstruction of law enforcement after she knocked on the office door of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Thursday as he signed sweeping new voting restrictions into law.
Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Cannon is a member, praised the state representative on Twitter for protesting the bill and speaking “truth to power, even in the face of unjust arrest.”
“Always ready to stand alongside you and get into some good trouble,” he added in a reference to the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).
Cannon was among others protesting the widely decried legislation outside of Kemp’s office at the state Capitol on Thursday. She had tried to witness the signing of the bill and Kemp’s subsequent remarks, but the doors to the governor’s office were closed, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Videos posted online show Cannon knocking on a door to Kemp’s office before two state police officers handcuffed her and then pulled her through the state Capitol building while she was restrained. It’s unclear in the video what the state trooper guarding Kemp’s office said to Cannon before he handcuffed her.
“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 Georgia State Patrol said in a statement on Thursday.
Tamara Stevens, who filmed the video, told The Washington Post that Cannon “wasn’t banging on the door” to Kemp’s office.
“A capitol officer came over and said, ‘Don’t knock on my door,’ and she’s like, ‘Well, are they in there signing the bill?’ and he’s like, ‘Don’t knock on the door.’ And it was at that point that I started filming,” she said.
In one video, Cannon can be heard asking the officers as she’s forced through the building, “Why am I under arrest? There is no reason for me to be arrested, I am a legislator.”
Cannon was taken to jail, where she was charged with felony obstruction of law enforcement and with preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings of members.
She was released late Thursday and tweeted early Friday morning that she was “not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression.”
Warnock, who visited Cannon at the Fulton County Jail when she was detained, told reporters outside the facility Thursday night that it was a “very sad day for the state of Georgia.”
“What we have witnessed today is a desperate attempt to lock out and squeeze the people out of their own democracy,” he said. “And in this effort, in this case, they’re literally being locked down.”
He later added that Cannon is “an outstanding public servant.”
“We’re praying for her, we’re praying for her family, but we are praying also for Georgia, and for the soul of our democracy,” he said.
Cannon posted a Twitter thread recounting her experience and slamming the new bill early Friday morning.
“I am grateful that my pastor @ReverendWarnock & community held witness and prayed for me, my family & our state,” she wrote, in part.
She published a statement on social media later on Friday thanking supporters for their love and support.
“I will continue to fight for the rights of Georgians from far and wide, but today I ask for privacy for myself and my family as I heal from this experience, so that I may continue this fight again,” she wrote.
Voting rights groups have criticized Georgia’s new law for imposing additional limitations on mail-in voting, new voter identification requirements for voting by mail, giving the state legislature more control over election administration and making it a crime to offer food or water to people in line to vote, among other provisions.
On Thursday, voting rights activist Stacey Abrams tweeted that the new bill “suppresses voters, criminalizes compassion and represents a massive power grab of election authority from local and state officials.”
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