Georgia Rep. Park Cannon was with several other protesters when she knocked on Kemp’s office door, asking to be admitted while he signed a law designed to supress voter engagement in that state. Cannon said the public should be allowed to witness the announcement of the bill signing. No one has ever been arrested for knocking on the door to a public institution before.
The sweeping legislation signed by Kemp requires ID for absentee ballots, limits drop boxes and changes early voting hours. Here’s what really happened.
Who is Park Cannon?
A member of the Georgia House of Representatives representing the 58th district and a member of the Democratic Party, Park Cannon was raised on a military base in Albany, Georgia. She started studying at the Chapman University but she left the college due to racism.
After that, she joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with a degree in linguistics. She also minored in women’s and gender studies. The African-American rep self-identifies as queer.
Following the death of Rep John Lewis back in July 2020, Cannon decided to apply for the Democratic Party of Georgia to succeed him as the Democratic nominee for Georgia’s 5th congressional district in the November election. She was one of the party’s last five candidates out of 131 applicants, but the committee chose Georgia state senator and state Democratic party chair Nikema Williams.
Why was Cannon arrested?
Several videos of her arrest went viral on social media where officers can be seen forcibly removing Cannon, a Democrat from Atlanta who is a Black woman, dragging her through the Georgia State Capitol and pushing her into a police car. A woman who was with Cannon said she wasn’t disrespectful or causing a disturbance to anyone.
“She knew he was signing a bill that would affect all Georgians — why would he hide behind closed doors? This isn’t a monarchy,” Tamara Stevens said. “You have a woman of color fighting for the rights of Georgians and they arrested her for knocking on the door because she wanted to witness our governor sign the bill.”
Cannon is known for taking a stand when it comes to Georgia’s voting rights. Earlier this legislative session, she was involved in a separate dispute with a Capitol police officer during a protest over election bills. Cannon came in front of an officer’s bullhorn and then another officer took hold of her arm to move her away. The conflict led to a sit-in by Cannon and fellow Democrats on the stairs of the state Capitol.
Political strategist Antwon Stephens tweeted, “GA State Patrol just arrested and violently swung around GA State Rep Park Cannon for peacefully protesting worst voter suppression laws being passed since Jim Crow days. Georgia GOP will stop at nothing to preserve a dying party in a state quickly turning deep Blue.”
Rep Anna V Eskamani tweeted, “Rep. Park Cannon — a fierce fighter for Georgia — was arrested for knocking on @GovKemp’s door as he signed an elections restrictions bill. She had EVERY RIGHT to be there and should not be arrested for defending the right to vote & for knocking on a public door!
Senator Megan Hunt wrote, “Today my friend Georgia Rep Park Cannon was arrested for knocking on the Gov’s door as he live-streamed the signing of the bill. She had every right to be present during this historic stripping of voting rights. She’s a fighter for justice and I stand with her. Unbelievable.” Another user stated, “More law enforcement power was used against Rep Park Cannon than the people who stormed the capitol.”