Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon (Democrat) was arrested Thursday and removed from the state's Capitol
building, with a viral social media video depicting her being led away in handcuffs by state troopers.
The video was shared online by attorney Gerald Griggs, who later confirmed that he would be defending Cannon against felony charges.
The incident took place following the state legislature's passing of a bill that would institute several restrictions on voting access
Cannon, who opposed the bill, went to the door of the office of Republican Governor Brian Kemp, and began "beating on the door," according to a statement issued by Georgia State Patrol obtained by CNN. After being told to stop, she subsequently began knocking on the door of the Governor's Ceremonial Office, which is marked by a sign stating "Governor's Staff Only." At the time, a press conference was taking place inside.
Police claimed that Park was told twice to stop knocking and warned she would be arrested if she did not do so. Afterwards, she was arrested, handcuffed and taken to Fulton County Jail.
Georgia's newly elected Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock (Democrat) later went to the jail to visit Cannon, who is a parishioner at the Ebenezer Baptist Church where Warnock was senior pastor, his office said in a statement, adding a reference to the voting restriction bill that the statement dubbed "on-going voter suppression happening on the state-level in Georgia."
Fellow freshman Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff (Democrat) came out on social media and slammed the arrest.
"I stand with Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon... who was arrested and CHARGED WITH A FELONY for ... for what?" Ossoff tweeted. "For *knocking on Gov. Kemp’s office door* as she tried to observe the cowardly closed-door signing ceremony for the voter suppression law."
Both Ossoff and Warnock have voiced their opposition to the new law.
While she has since been released from jail, an arrest affidavit obtained by CNN confirmed that the state representative was still facing charges, specifically felony obstruction and preventing or disrupting general assembly session.
The justification for the latter charge was that Cannon "knowingly and intentionally did by knocking the governor's door during session of [signing] a bill." For the former charge, the justification was that had used violence and threats against police, with the affidavit writing that she "did knowingly and willfully hinder Officer E. Dorval and Officer G. Sanchez of the Capitol PD, a law enforcement officer in the lawful discharge or the officer's official duties by Use of Threats of Violence, violence to the person of said officer by stomping on LT Langford foot three times during the apprehension and as she was being escorted out of the property. The accused continued on kicking LT Langford with her heels."
As Griggs noted on social media, Georgia's state constitution states that lawmakers cannot be arrested during a session of the general assembly barring treason, felony or breach of peace. Both charges Cannon currently faces are felonies.
After her release, Cannon took to Twitter to thank those who supported her.
" I am not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression," she wrote. "I’d love to say I’m the last, but we know that isn’t true."
She gave further description of the law, which works to restrict many methods of voting. "These restrictions serve no purpose other than to keep voters from exercising their constitutional right to vote," she wrote, condemning the law's passing.
Cannon has served in the Georgia state legislature since 2016 and had made headlines at the time for being the state's youngest lawmaker at the age of 24 and for being just one of three openly LGBTQ lawmakers in the state.
The new elections law adds a new ID requirement for absentee ballots and limit ballot drop boxes. It also will make it a misdemeanor crime to give food or drinks to voters waiting in long lines. It also will set up a fraud hotline, forbid local county elections offices from taking breaks while counting ballots and shorten the runoff election cycle from nine weeks to four weeks. It will allow the state election board the power to replace local county election boards and permit challenges to voting eligibility.
Activists have claimed the bill is aimed to curtail the influence of Black voters who were instrumental in state elections that helped Democrats win the White House and narrow control of the Senate.
Kemp - who referred to a perceived "loss of confidence in the ballot box" after the 2020 presidential elections, which was mired by president Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud - noted that he had no apology for passing the law, which he claimed was "taking another step to making our elections fair and secure."Reuters contributed to this report.