The Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis said she will not pursue charges against a Georgia state lawmaker who was arrested during a protest of the state’s sweeping new election law.
Rep. Park Cannon, a Democrat from Atlanta, was arrested March 25 after she knocked on the door to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s office while he was on live television speaking about the voting bill he had just signed into law.
“After reviewing all of the evidence, I have decided to close this matter,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said in an emailed statement. “It will not be presented to a grand jury for consideration of indictment, and it is now closed.”
Georgia State Police charged her with obstruction of law enforcement and disruption of the General Assembly. She was released from jail later that evening. Those felony charges carry a combined eight-year prison sentence.
“While some of Representative 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,” Willis said.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday morning at the John Lewis Mural, Cannon said her experience with Georgia State Police was painful but she’ll never stop fighting for human and voters rights. She also thanked the thousands of people who have reached out, showing solidarity.
“One week ago today, a tragic event occurred that is forever etched in my mind in an effort to be present at the signing of legislation that affected all Georgia voters,” Cannon said. “I am not ashamed to admit I was afraid of what might happen. The recurring questions flooding my mind were, ‘Why are they doing this? Where are they going to take me?’”
Cannon said during her experience, time moved slowly and even though the experience was horrible, she believes Governor Kemp’s signing Senate Bill 202 into law is a far more serious crime.
“A law with such nefarious qualities that several of Georgia’s Fortune 500 companies have begun knocking on the door too,” Cannon added. “When I see the photo of Kemp in his office perched at his desk, strategically positioned under a disgraceful painting of a south Georgia plantation flanked by six white male legislators. In one stroke of the pen, I am reminded of how important it is to stay focused on the issue at hand, voter suppression in Georgia.”
“I am elated to hear that the bogus charges against Rep. Cannon for only doing her job have been dropped,” said State Rep. Renitta Shannon, D-Decatur. This was the right decision and I appreciate District Attorney Willis moving quickly using common sense in this matter.”
Georgia’s new election laws will replace the signature match statute with voter ID requirements, shortening the absentee ballot request period starting 11-weeks before the elections and ending 11 days before a primary, general election, or runoff. Additionally, counties must have absentee ballots counted by 5 p.m. the day after an election and bans the use of mobile voting buses for early voting except in emergencies.
Also, drop boxes can be capped at one per 100,000 active voters in the county or one for every early voting location. Counties must choose between the smaller of the two. Drop boxes will only be accessible during early voting. Additionally, passing out food and drink to waiting voters is also criminalized and partisan poll watchers will have to undergo training. Lastly, the Georgia Secretary of State would no longer chair the State Election Board, and would instead be appointed by state legislators.
All of these provisions were included at the behest of former President Donald J. Trump, which was based upon unfounded claims of voter fraud in Georgia.
Governor Brian P. Kemp has pledged the new laws make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. However, facing blowback from Major League Baseball after pulling their All-Star Game from Georgia, plus Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, and seventy-two African-American-led companies speaking out against Georgia’s new voting laws, Kemp said these companies are succumbing to “cancel-culture and woke politics.”
“Brian Kemp promising to cancel “cancel culture” in response to corporations speaking out about voter suppression bills is both un-American and a fool’s errand,” Rep. Shannon said. “In this country, people and or corporations have the right to express support or disdain for whatever they want. Cancelling ‘cancel culture’ sounds to me like planning to force people to support ideas that they don’t agree with. Does he understand how freedom works? Additionally, he should probably be more interested in canceling Covid and low vaccination rates in the state of Georgia.”