Updated at 3:46 p.m. E.T.
Georgia state representative Park Cannon was arrested yesterday evening after knocking on governor Brian Kemp’s office door as he was signing a controversial voting bill into law.
— Representative Park Cannon (@Cannonfor58) March 26, 2021
Following her release later in the evening, Cannon thanked her supporters in a tweet, writing, “I’m 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.”
Earlier in the day, Republican legislators in both state chambers swiftly passed SB202, legislation that would impose sweeping voting restrictions in state-wide elections. The bill would require voters present identification when requesting absentee ballots, shorten the period in which voters could request absentee ballots, limit the number of drop boxes, and give state officials greater control over local elections. The bill also makes it a crime to distribute food and water to voters in line at polling locations.
While proponents of the legislation claim it is meant to preserve election integrity, opponents say that the true objective is to suppress voters from marginalized communities who are more likely to be impacted by the new restrictions.
Governor Kemp signed the bill into law in a private, live-streamed ceremony Thursday evening. As he was signing the bill, Representative Cannon stood outside his office, knocking on the door. The Hill reports that she was taken to Fulton County Jail where she was charged with “obstruction of law enforcement” and “‘preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings of members.”
Cannon, who is the state’s youngest lawmaker and one of only a handful who is openly LGBTQ+, remained defiant on Twitter, writing that the legislation springs from the same ideology that sparked last week’s mass shooting in Atlanta which left eight dead, including six women of Asian descent: “The closed-door signing of #SB202 and the senseless murder of #AAPI Georgians are both products of a white supremacist system. Different tactics, same goal: fear and control.”
CNN reports that the bill is part of a larger, nationwide effort by Republican lawmakers to pass restrictive measures in swing states. Since February, 250 bills have been introduced in 43 states according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
In a statement reported by the news outlet, Jonathan Diaz, a lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center, called the bill “nothing less than a concerted nationwide effort to restrict voting rights access” to most Americans but “especially for voters of color and voters who are, quite frankly, more likely to support Democrats.”
“We will not live in fear and we will not be controlled,” Cannon added in another Tweet. “We have a right to our future and a right to our freedom. We will come together and continue fighting white supremacy in all its forms.”
On Friday, the Victory Institute issued a statement condemning Cannon’s arrest and calling on charges against her to be dropped. Victory Institute President Annise Parker said in the statement that Cannon’s arrest “is only the latest in a legacy of abuse directed toward civil rights leaders demanding the right to vote. We proudly stand with Rep. Cannon and demand all charges against her be dropped.”