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Out Black lawmaker won’t be prosecuted for knocking on GOP governor’s door

Georgia Rep. Park Cannon
Georgia Rep. Park CannonPhoto: LGBTQ Victory Institute

The Fulton County, Georgia district attorney’s office said that they won’t file charges against state Rep. Park Cannon (D) in connection to her knocking on Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) door and her subsequent arrested.

“While some of Rep. Cannon’s colleagues and the police officers involved may have found her behavior annoying, such sentiment does not justify a presentment to a grand jury of the allegations in the arrest warrants or any other felony charges,” District Attorney Fani Willis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Related: Restoring the Voting Rights Act honors John Lewis

Video from March 25 of this year showed Cannon, who is Black, talking to a white Georgia State Patrol trooper in front of Kemp’s door as he signed a bill that increases voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, allows state officials to take over local elections, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, and even makes it a crime to give water to people standing in line to vote.

An officer blocked Cannon as she started knocking on the door. He grabbed her hand and arrested her, pulling her out of the building in handcuffs. Other people tried to ask why the troopers were arresting her and witnesses said that the troopers were repeatedly told that she is a legislator.

“There is no reason for me to be arrested. I am a legislator!” Park said in the video.

Officers later said that they were afraid a riot would break out if they didn’t arrest Cannon, comparing her knocking on the door to the Capitol insurrection in January that left five people dead. No one in the crowd of protestors, though, tried to break down the door.

The officer also accused her of kicking him and submitted photos of his bruised leg, which he said happened during the arrest. Cannon’s lawyer said that multiple videos of the arrest showed that didn’t happen.

Police held her on two felony charges: obstructing law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence and a second charge of disrupting general assembly sessions or other meetings of members.

“Facts and evidence showed to the world that Rep. Cannon committed no crime and should not have ever been arrested,” said her lawyer Gerald Griggs. “We thank the district attorney for her thorough review of the evidence and are weighing our next legal actions.”

Cannon said this week she hopes the arrest doesn’t take attention away from the bill Kemp was signing, which she called “the most comprehensive voter suppression bill in the country.”

The NAACP and other civil rights organizations have filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia to overturn the law, alleging that it violates both the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution.

“This law is driven by blatant racism, represents politics at its very worst, and is clearly illegal,” said Sophia Lakin of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project said in a statement. “We urge the court to act swiftly to strike it down.”

Cannon first took office in 2016 and has pushed back against Christian conservative policy in the years she has been in office, supporting the state’s hate crimes legislation, opposing a religious exemptions bill that Democrats said would lead to LGBTQ discrimination, and opposing restrictions on abortion rights.

“There’s so much work to be done,” she told LGBTQ Nation last year.

Cannon was one of three out lawmakers when she was elected and she said that her identity as a Black, queer Southern woman pushes her to fight for justice.

“As a Black queer person from the South who is enamored with multiple languages and cultures and opportunities for justice,” she said, “it sometimes comes out differently the way I call for justice than some other members who are predominantly in the forefront in LGBTQ space.”

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