The Georgia State Patrol charged Cannon with two felonies: obstruction of law enforcement and disrupting General Assembly sessions. If convicted, she could serve up to eight years in prison.
A Georgia State Patrol lieutenant said in an incident report that memories of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol “were in the back of my mind” when he arrested Cannon. He said he was worried that other protesters would have been “emboldened” to follow Cannon’s lead if he didn’t arrest her after she refused his requests to stop knocking on the door of Kemp’s private second-floor office in the Georgia Capitol.
Another officer said he was inside Kemp’s office when a staffer told him “the crowd was attempting to breach the wooden doors” that Cannon had been knocking.
Witnesses interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, however, said there was no attempt to “breach” the doorway.
“Nobody touched that door. We didn’t go anywhere near that door. We followed the police officers who were taking Park into the elevator,” said Tamara Stevens, an activist who was with Cannon and filmed the encounter. “There was no attempt, flat out, to breach the door.”
The Georgia Constitution says legislators are “free from arrest during sessions of the General Assembly” except for charges of treason, felonies or breach of the peace.
David Dreyer, who is one of the attorneys representing Cannon, said he believes Cannon will be “vindicated.” Dreyer, who also is a Democratic state representative from Atlanta, has some experience with legislators who’ve been arrested while at the Georgia Capitol.
Dreyer represented then state Sen. Nikema Williams when she was arrested in 2018 on similar charges during a protest urging officials to tally all absentee and provisional ballots before declaring Kemp the winner in a close election for governor.
The charges were later dropped, and Williams, now a U.S. House member, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to bar further use of the law used to arrest her.
Cannon said the physical and emotional pain of her arrest linger, but her focus is on continuing to fight against legislation like SB 202.
“When I see the photo of Kemp strategically positioned under a disgraceful painting of a South Georgia plantation, flanked by a group of six white legislators, all male, in one stroke of the pen I am reminded how important it is to stay focused on the issue at hand,” she said. “Voter suppression in Georgia is alive today.”