The White House sharply criticized Friday the arrest of a Georgia state lawmaker who was knocking on the door of Gov. Brian Kemp’s office as he was signing into law controversial voting restrictions.
Multiple videos appeared to capture State Representative Park Cannon’s arrest with two officers placing her in handcuffs, and escorting her away from Kemp’s office as she and onlookers questioned the officers’ legal standing to place her in custody.
Cannon, who is Black, is escorted away by at least four officers as the governor signed voting restrictions into law behind closed doors. The representative demanded to know why she was being arrested, but police cannot be heard providing a response as she repeatedly told them she is a state legislator.
“I think anyone who saw that video would have been deeply concerned by the actions that were taken by law enforcement when she’s simply, by the video that was provided, seemed to be knocking on the door to see if she could watch a bill being signed into law,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
“The largest concern here obviously beyond her being treated in the manner she was, which is of course of great concern, is the law that was put into place,” added Psaki.
Voting rights activists and Democrats generally have sharply criticized the law as a cynical ploy to hinder the ability of minorities, particularly Black voters, to cast ballots.
The laws come after Black American voters were instrumental in President Joe Biden’s victory in the state in November, as well as the election of two Democratic senators in subsequent run-off elections.
Among its many provisions the law criminalizes giving food or water to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots, reduce the number of ballot drop boxes, and establishes a new ID requirements for absentee ballots.
The bill passed the state legislature without a single Democratic vote in support.
A picture released by Kemp’s office of the bill’s signing shows him in a stately room, lending his pen to the bill as he flanked by six white men in business attire.