Amid the backdrop of the volatile Georgia’s gubernatorial race that’s raging without relent, a startling scene erupted at the Georgia Capitol that led to the arrest of a Black state senator.
First-term Atlanta senator State Sen. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, said she was simply standing alongside the many voters who petitioned for an audience with the Georgia Legislature about the alleged cases of voting irregularities and voter suppression tactics in the tight governor’s race between Stacey Abrams, D-Georgia, and Brian Kemp, R-Georgia.
Williams, the first ever Black woman to rep the Georgia Legislature from District 39, was asking the state legislature to “count every vote” from last week’s gubernatorial election.
Williams was subsequently arrested and charged with misdemeanor obstruction of justice for not vacating the Capitol rotunda.
She reportedly spent about six hours at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, along with more than a dozen demonstrators who were also arrested for participating in the protest in the state Capitol.
This exchange comes just a day after a federal judge blocked the Georgia secretary of state’s office’s ability to certify the results of Georgia’s nail-thin governor’s race before Friday.
This reprieve will enable counties additional days to count outstanding ballots that could trigger a run-off election.
Williams said she is still outraged at the actions of the police.
“I was not yelling. I was not chanting,” she said. “I stood peacefully next to my constituents because they wanted their voices to be heard, and now I’m being arrested.”
Incidentally, Williams and other observers and protesters noticed that
Williams’ White colleague, State Rep. David Dreyer, D-Atlanta, escaped from arrest despite attending the exact same protest with Williams. The observers and protesters attribute the oversight of Dreyer in the face of Williams’ arrest to Williams’ race.
A spokeswoman for the Abrams for Governor Campaign expressed her outrage that Williams would be accosted for simply doing what she pledged she would for the Georgia electorate.
“Shamefully, State Senator Nikema Williams was arrested while doing the job she swore an oath to do, standing in solidarity with her constituents to support the core values of our democracy and demand that every Georgia vote be counted,” Lauren Groh-Wargo said in a statement. “The charges against Senator Williams should be dropped immediately.”
“Today, there were people who came to the Capitol to raise this issue,” Groh-Wargo added as she thanked Williams for standing with the demonstrators. “They were literally only asking to be heard. Demanding that this state count every vote.”
The protest was orchestrated by the local Black Lives Matter group to ensure all absentee and provisional ballots are tallied in the governor’s race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp.