No Charges for Georgia Lawmaker Arrested During Signing of Voting Law

Atlanta Democrat Park Cannon was arrested last month after she repeatedly knocked on the door of Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s office as he prepared to sign a controversial bill overhauling Georgia’s elections.

State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, is placed in handcuffs by Georgia State Troopers after being asked to stop knocking on a door that leads to Gov. Brian Kemp’s office at the Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta on March 25, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

ATLANTA (CN) — An Atlanta-area district attorney declined Wednesday to prosecute a Georgia lawmaker who was arrested last month for knocking on Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s door as he gave a televised speech before signing a controversial new voting bill into law.

State police arrested Representative Park Cannon, a Democrat who represents Atlanta, on March 25. Cannon was protesting outside Kemp’s office with activists and asking to see Kemp sign a law that puts new restrictions on absentee ballots, bans people from passing out food and water to voters in line, and allows the state to take over local election boards.

Cannon was charged with obstruction of law enforcement and disruption of the General Assembly. The charges carried a potential sentence of eight years in prison. She was released from jail later that evening.

Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, is escorted out of the Georgia State Capitol Building on March 25, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

In a statement Wednesday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said she chose to close the case after reviewing evidence provided by in-person interviews with witnesses, videos and multiple reports from the Capitol police.

“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,” said Willis, a Democrat.

Cannon’s attorney Gerald Griggs posted a statement on Twitter Wednesday afternoon thanking Willis for closing the case.

“Facts and evidence showed to the world that @Cannonfor58 committed no crime and should not have ever been arrested. We thank the district attorney for her thorough review of the evidence and are weighing our next legal actions,” he said.

At a press conference last week, Cannon described the experience as “painful both physically and emotionally.” Video of the arrest posted online showed the lawmaker being dragged away from the office doors by police officers.

She said the charges shouldn’t take attention away from the new law, which she called “the most comprehensive voter suppression bill in the country.”

Although Georgia has a law on the books prohibiting the arrest of legislators during sessions of the General Assembly except for charges of treason, felonies, or breach of the peace, Cannon is the second sitting lawmaker to be arrested during a legislative session in the last five years.

Then-state Senator Nikema Williams, an Atlanta Democrat who now serves as the congresswoman for the district that deceased voting rights champion John Lewis represented for years, was arrested during a 2018 protest in the Capitol rotunda.

Williams and other activists had gathered to urge election officials to tally all provisional and absentee ballots before certifying Brian Kemp as the winner of the gubernatorial race against Democrat Stacey Abrams. The charges were later dropped in that case as well.

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