voting rights

Georgia Trooper Claims Legislator’s Knock Raised Fears of January 6 Repeat

State Representative Park Cannon returns to the Georgia Capitol for the first time following her arrest for tapping on the governor’s office door. Photo: Ben Gray/AP/Shutterstock

In a further development in the incident that is becoming the symbol of voter-suppression extremism, the state trooper who arrested Georgia legislator Park Cannon for gently knocking on Governor Brian Kemp’s door as he prepared to sign the state’s controversial new election law has now explained the terror Cannon inspired in his heart. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Lieutenant G.D. Langford claims this sole woman who wanted to witness Kemp’s hasty rubber-stamping of the law raised the specter of January 6 for him:

The officer, Lt. G.D. Langford, said in a 13-page incident report that he was worried that other protesters would have been “emboldened” to follow state Rep. Park Cannon’s lead if he didn’t arrest her after she refused his requests to stop knocking on Kemp’s private second-floor office in the Georgia Capitol.

“The events of January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol were in the back of my mind.”

Cannon was wrestled out of the Georgia Capitol (her workplace as a member of the House of Representatives, to be clear) and hauled off to be charged with two felonies (obstruction of law enforcement and disruption of the General Assembly). You can see for yourself the horrific acts for which she was arrested and manhandled:

Yes, it looks quite a bit like the conduct of protesters on January 6:

Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

The State Patrol incident report on the arrest is full of low farce, as it happens:

[T]wo other officers said in the same incident report that they rushed to secure the governor after Cannon’s arrest, interrupting him as he spoke to a TV camera in his mostly empty ceremonial office.

Sgt. N. Jenkins said a panicked Kemp staffer told him to “lock the office down and move the Governor and First Lady from the Ceremonial Office as the side door was shaking so violently, he felt it would be breached.”

A look at the video of the incident and all the eyewitness reports show this claim of incipient danger was pretty clearly made up. But aside from that, it does not reflect well on the courage of the governor who so often posed as a tough guy during his successful 2018 gubernatorial bid:

Yet this “politically incorrect conservative” seems to have feared one Black legislator who wanted to rain on his private parade celebrating another notch on the gun in his long career of voter suppression.

Soon enough, if he survives a purge orchestrated by Donald Trump (furious that he supported the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 win in Georgia), Kemp will face another Black woman whom he has reason to fear. That would be Stacey Abrams, the voting-rights champion widely expected to seek a rematch with the incumbent in 2022 and who will make the new election law and the tradition it represents a major target of her candidacy.

In the meantime, the leadership of the Georgia State Patrol needs to reflect on how very bad it looks when white troopers drag a Black legislator out of the Capitol after a peaceful protest for voting rights. It certainly reinforces demands for federal preemption of state election practices in states like Georgia where it appears neo-Confederate habits are dying very hard.

Georgia Trooper: Legislator’s Knock Raised January 6 Fears