Rep. Park Cannon returns to Georgia state Capitol following arrest

The Georgia Democratic Caucus is calling for the charges against Cannon to be dropped

Georgia state Democrat Park Cannon has returned to the state Capitol building on Monday, escorted by Martin Luther King III and a group of her supporters.

Cannon's return comes after she was arrested and escorted out of the building by police on Thursday for knocking on the door of Gov. Brian Kemp’s office as he signed a controversial election bill, SB202.

Troopers with the Georgia State Patrol told FOX 5 Atlanta in a statement after Cannon's arrest that she was "instructed that no one was in the front office and to stop beating on the door."

Cannon was booked on charges of obstruction of law enforcement and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings. The obstruction charge carries a potential penalty of one to five years in prison, FOX 5 reported. 

Cannon was released shortly before 11:30 p.m. ET, and was greeted by demonstrators who had called for her release.

"I am not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression. I’d love to say I’m the last, but we know that isn’t true," Cannon said in a statement on Twitter. "But someday soon that last person will step out of jail for the last time and breathe a first breath knowing that no one will be jailed again for fighting for the right to vote."

She also responded to a tweet from Gov. Kemp in which he said he was "proud to sign S.B. 202 to ensure elections in Georgia are secure, fair, and accessible."

"We will not live in fear and we will not be controlled," she said. "We have a right to our future and a right to our freedom. We will come together and continue fighting white supremacy in all its forms."

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The Georgia Democratic Caucus is calling for the charges against Cannon to be dropped.

"We have to reform the way in which we deal with state legislators as passions are sure to rise while we're here," House Minority Leader James Beverly said. "We have to make sure that never happens again, because while we're taking up bills that try to teach young brown, Black boys how to deal with police, the police need to learn how to refrain themselves from locking someone up because they knocked on a door." 

Beverly emphasized that the focus should be on the outcome of bill 2020, not on Rep. Cannon. 

"She responded as anyone would respond in a place of being where we are in this general vicinity," he added. "We don't have our bills being heard, they ignore our cries for justice, and where there's no justice there can be no peace." 

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Prior to Kemp's signature, SB202 was approved by the state's Republican-controlled legislature.

It calls for changing the rules and processes for requesting an absentee ballot, including requiring voters to present valid forms of photo identification. It also limits drop boxes and the early voting period for runoffs.

The new law also allows the state to take over county elections or remove local elections officials if there is a determined need to intervene. In addition, it prevents food and beverages from being provided by outside groups to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots.

According to FOX 5, this is not the first time Cannon had a run-in with law enforcement over the voting reform legislation in the state. A police officer reportedly grabbed Cannon's arm to escort her out of the way during a protest in February of House Bill 531, a sweeping bill that would make multiple changes to restrict voting. The altercation lead to a two-hour sit-in on the rotunda steps. 

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Georgia was one of the key states that the Trump campaign focused on as it honed in on unfounded claims of voter fraud during and after the 2020 presidential election. Joe Biden narrowly won Georgia by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the swing state since 1992. 

In addition, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won both Senate runoff elections in January, which gave the party a majority in the chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

During President Biden's first news conference on Thursday, he slammed what appeared to be attempts to restrict voting access as "un-American" not just in Georgia, but in several states across the U.S.

"What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick," Biden said. "This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle. I mean, this is gigantic what they’re trying to do and it cannot be sustained."

Biden acknowledged there was more he could do than simply pass voting rights legislation to stop these initiatives, though he declined to go into detail.

Gov. Kemp defended the bill in an interview with FOX News on Sunday, arguing the legislation is expanding the opportunity for people to vote early in Georgia and further secures the absentee ballot process. He urged his constituents to look into the bill for themselves rather than listening to "false narratives" that the bill is "racist" or an example of voter suppression. 

Fox News' Brittany DeLea contributed to this report