Once again the cops in the Georgia State Capitol have arrested a black elected representative of the state. In 2018 it was Georgia State Senator Nikema Williams who was daring to view a voting rights protest that was going on in the Capitol – this time it’s State Rep. Park Cannon.
Cannon, who represents parts of DeKalb and Fulton counties was trying to view the signing of the new controversial election bill by Georgia’s Governor Kemp. You can see in video filmed by activist Tamara Stevens that the Representative was knocking on the door where the Governor was holding a news conference.
Stevens told the Washington Post “A capitol officer came over and said, ‘Don’t knock on my door,’ and she’s like, ‘Well, are they in there signing the bill?’ and he’s like, ‘Don’t knock on the door.’ And it was at that point that I started filming.”
Quickly after that, the Representative was arrested. The bill that was signed behind police guarded doors in a room with all white men will give sweeping powers to the Governor and Secretary of State offices in controlling county election offices that they view as failing. Likely at the top of that list is Fulton and Dekalb counties. The bill also expands voter ID to absentee ballots, bans groups from handing out food or water to people in lines (something that as I documented in Georgia could reach beyond 4 hours.)
As I stated earlier this isn’t the first time that an elected Representative was arrested in the Georgia Capitol – in 2018 then State Senator Nikema Williams was arrested while viewing a voting rights protest that was occurring. She was not participating in it but, as she was black – the Capitol police profiled her as participating – ignoring that voicing that she was a Senator.
Now Williams is a US House Representative, taking over the seat that voting rights legend Rep. John Lewis once held.
Then-Senator Williams told me “It was a horrific experience, they patted me down, like worse than you would get at a TSA pre-check, but then she told me to lift up my dress so they could make sure that I was not carrying something in my vaginal cavity. I am a sitting state senator, that you brought off the rotunda of the capital, and you’re searching me and wanting me to take my dress off to strip search me. And then they wanted me to pee in a cup so they could test my urine before they even told me what I was charged with.”
Read more about Georgia’s voter suppression at GregPalast.com where Greg Palast and I have been covering the state’s oppressive voting laws for the past 7 years.
Watch my full interview with Congresswoman Nikema Williams the day after her arrest in 2018.