Lawmaker demands apology after trooper physically moved her during protest over voting bills

ATLANTA — A Georgia Democratic lawmaker is demanding an apology after a state trooper physically moved her aside during a small but vocal protest at the State Capitol Friday afternoon.

The incident happened as State Rep. Park Cannon, an Atlanta Democrat, joined other lawmakers and demonstrators to protest against House Bill 531, a large, omnibus elections bill Republicans say is necessary for election integrity, but Democrats insist is more about suppressing the minority vote.

The protest started in the Capitol rotunda but moved into the South Wing as some of the demonstrators approached other House lawmakers who had just adjourned for a lunch break.

Troopers and Capitol police moved in. As one state trooper used a megaphone to advise the demonstrators that protests were not allowed inside the Capitol, telling them to disperse, Cannon used her head to try and block the sound of that megaphone.

Video shows another state trooper ordering her to stand back and physically moving her aside. Cannon was not injured.


But Cannon demanded an apology, and other Democratic lawmakers joined her in a nearly two-hour sit in on the South Wing steps.

Democratic leadership tried to negotiate between law enforcement and lawmakers, but there was no apology.

In a release, a GSP spokesperson said Cannon “impeded” their dispersal order and engaged in actions that could be “construed as obstruction,” though the statement said no charges had been filed.

Democrats are fighting the passage of HB 531 and are using some political leverage they have with the proposed sports wagering bill.

That bill, championed by Savannah Republican State Rep. Ron Stephens, needs Democratic support to pass since a number of Republicans oppose any gambling bill.

“When you are in the minority, you get few opportunities to really negotiate real policies that you prefer,” said State Rep. Billy Mitchell, a Stone Mountain Democrat and House Minority Caucus Chair. “This is one of those times when we talk about the sports betting bill and to a certain degree, the election bills.”

But even Democratic leadership isn’t sure they have enough leverage to force changes to that bill and are, instead, focusing on changes to the sports wagering bill itself, which would legalize betting on professional sporting events with a percentage of the revenue going to HOPE and Georgia Pre-K.