WASHINGTON — Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon, who was arrested last week while knocking on the office door of Gov. Brian Kemp as he signed a bill that places new restrictions on voting, said Thursday that what the governor has done is a “far more serious crime” than her actions.
At a brief press conference in Atlanta, flanked by her lawyers and supporters, Cannon said being arrested last week was painful “both physically and emotionally.”
“As horrible as that experience was and as difficult as it is to acknowledge that I am facing eight years in prison on unfounded charges, I believe the governor’s signing into law the most comprehensive voter suppression bill in the country is a far more serious crime,” said Cannon, who was wearing a black sling around her left arm.
Kemp has defended the law, arguing the measure is designed to make it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
Cannon said that when she saw the photo of Kemp signing the measure, surrounded by a group of white male legislators and sitting in front of a painting of a South Georgia slave plantation, she said she was reminded how important it is to stay focused on the voting rights issue.
“The issue at hand: Voter suppression in Georgia is alive today, on the first day of April. He has erased decades of sacrifices, incalculable hours of work, marches, prayers, tears even, and as he minimized the deaths of thousands who had paid the ultimate price for the right to vote,” she said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Cannon’s legal defense, one of her lawyers said at the press conference, and any remaining funds will be used to protect voting rights. Her lawyers said that they are now conducting an extensive investigation into the incident.
Cannon was charged with two felonies including preventing or disrupting the General Assembly or other meetings of members as well as obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.