Atlanta, GA – A Georgia lawmaker who was arrested after she tried to interrupt GOP Governor Brian Kemp’s signing of controversial a new voting law could be facing eight years in prison.
Kemp signed Georgia Senate Bill 202 into law on March 25 in a ceremony with press and supporters in attendance, WXIA reported.
Opponents of the legislation have complained that it is an attempt to suppress minority votes.
SB 202 requires an ID number, such as a driver’s license, to apply for an absentee ballot, WXIA reported.
The legislation also so cuts off absentee ballot applications 11 days prior to the election, limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes, and allows the state to take control of what it calls “underperforming” local election systems.
The law also prohibits volunteers from handing out drinks and snacks to voters waiting to vote, WXIA reported.
Kemp defended the legislation and urged people to “not listen to the rhetoric out there.”
“This bill gives the people more opportunities to vote,” the governor said. “It’s not disenfranchising anyone.”
But one Democratic state lawmaker said that seeing Kemp signing the voter bill while surrounded by white male legislators under a portrait of a historic Georgian slave plantation was too much for her so she took action, NBC News reported.
Video captured the moment that State Representative Park Cannon showed up at the door of the governor’s ceremonial office in the Georgia capitol and began pounding on the door to interrupt Kemp, WXIA reported.
George State Patrol were on duty at the door and intervened.
Officers told Cannon to stop banging on the door because of the press conference happening inside and warned her that if she didn’t stop, she would be arrested for obstruction, WXIA reported.
She continued to pound on the door and so officers took her into custody.
The video showed that Cannon was uncooperative, although she stopped short of forcibly resisting arrest.
She locked her legs and refused to walk, so officers on both sides of her were forced to alternately lift and push the lawmaker along to take her out of the state house, the video showed.
“I am not afraid to admit that I was afraid of what might happen,” Cannon told reporters at a press conference on April 1, according to WXIA.
She was booked into the Union City Jail, an overflow detention facility for the Fulton County Jail.
The Georgia State Patrol said the lawmaker was charged with obstruction of law enforcement and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings, WXIA reported.
Both charges are felonies and if convicted, carry a sentence of up to eight years in prison.
“As I sat down that evening, I kept thinking ‘why,’” Cannon told reporters.
Her team announced the establishment of a crowdfunding campaign to support her legal defense, WXIA reported.
“As difficult as it is to acknowledge that I am facing eight years in prison on unfounded charges – I believe the governor’s signing into law the most comprehensive voter suppression bill in the country is a far more serious crime,” Cannon said. “A law with such nefarious qualities that several of Georgia’s Fortune 500 companies have begun knocking on the door.”
She said being arrested at the governor’s door was “both physically and emotionally” painful, NBC News reported.
“The issue at hand: Voter suppression in Georgia is alive today, on the first day of April,” Cannon said. “He has erased decades of sacrifices, incalculable hours of work, marches, prayers, tears even, and as he minimized the deaths of thousands who had paid the ultimate price for the right to vote.”