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Who Is Park Cannon, Georgia Lawmaker Arrested at Brian Kemp Bill Signing?

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A Georgia lawmaker was arrested at the state Capitol on Thursday as she urged transparency around a new law that critics say will restrict voting rights.

Park Cannon, a Democrat who represents the 58th district in the Georgia House of Representatives, was arrested after she knocked on Governor Brian Kemp’s door as the Republican was signing the controversial bill. Opponents claim the law is a reaction to recent Democratic victories in the state.

Footage of Cannon being handcuffed by police and taken away was posted on Twitter by journalist Ari Berman and the video had racked up 2 million views by early Friday morning.

Cannon repeatedly identified herself as a state legislator but was removed from the Capitol, placed in a police car and brought to Fulton County jail, according to NBC News.

She was charged with two misdemeanors under Georgia state law: obstruction of law enforcement and preventing or disrupting the General Assembly.

A police spokesperson defended the arrest, saying Cannon “was advised that she was disturbing what was going on inside and if she did not stop, she would be placed under arrest.”

“Rep. Cannon stepped back for a moment and then stepped back up to the door and started knocking on the door again,” said Lt. W. Mark Riley. “She was again advised if she did not stop, she would be arrested for obstruction and disturbing the press conference.”

Cannon, whose arrest record states that she is 5 feet 2 inches tall, was later released.

Commenting on her experience on Twitter, she wrote: “I am 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.

“But someday soon that last person will step out of jail for the last time and breathe a first breath knowing that no one will be jailed again for fighting for the right to vote.”

This is insane: Georgia Dem rep @Cannonfor58 was arrested for trying to watch Brian Kemp sign new voter suppression bill. Look at how she is treated by police. This is straight out of Jim Crow pic.twitter.com/zRpMWumbkQ

— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) March 25, 2021

Cannon joined the Georgia House of Representatives in 2016 when she won a special election to succeed Simone Bell, who is also a Democrat. She identifies as queer, according to a 2016 interview for Elle magazine. She was only 24 at the time of her election.

Cannon was an activist as early as her high school years and, after her graduation from college, went to work for a women’s health clinic. She later worked at non-profit organizations that support the LGBT community, African Americans and low-income residents of her local area.

She told Elle shortly after her election that her heroes included the poet Maya Angelou and pioneering Black politician Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress.

Following the death of Rep. John Lewis in 2020, Cannon applied to be on the ballot as the Democratic candidate for Georgia’s 5th congressional district. She was placed in the top five out of 131 applicants but eventually lost out to Nikema Williams, who went on to win the seat.

A lawsuit has already been filed to challenge the new Georgia legislation, which has been described as “voter suppression” by detractors. The law limits early voting, restricts absentee ballots and drop boxes and makes it illegal for members of the public to give food or water to people standing in line, among other measures.

Update 3/26/21, 6.30 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include a new photo.

Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon was arrested by police at the state Capitol as Governor Brian Kemp signed a controversial new voting bill.
Tamara Stevens/Facebook/Screenshot

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