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Black LGBTQ lawmaker arrested, dragged from Georgia State Capitol

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

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State troopers arrested Rep. Park Cannon inside the State Capitol on Thursday.
(Images courtesy video from Hannah Joy Gebresilassie)

By Matt Hennie | ATLANTA – Georgia state troopers arrested and forcibly removed state Rep. Park Cannon from the Gold Dome Thursday as she interrupted Gov. Brian Kemp during the signing of a massive elections bill that critics derided as an effort to disenfranchise voters.

Cannon faces two felony charges – willful obstruction of law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings of members – third offense. Troopers transported Cannon to the Fulton County Jail after she was arrested. 

A crowd of supporters chanted “Free Park Cannon” outside the jail and U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock visited Cannon before she was released on a signature bond. LGBTQ attorney and Democratic activist Dennis Collard launched a legal defense fund for Cannon. By Friday morning, the effort raised $4,230 of its $5,000 goal.

Cannon’s arrest – her second confrontation with troopers during the legislative session this year – sparked outrage among supporters and overshadowed a victory lap by Kemp and Republicans who engineered the elections legislation. Kemp signed Senate Bill 202l into law Thursday shortly after lawmakers approved it on party-line votes.

Early Friday, Cannon – an Atlanta Democrat – thanked supporters. 

“Hey everyone, thank you for your support. I’ve been released from jail. 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 tweet.

“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 added.

The arrest unfolded about 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, according to arrest warrants obtained by the AJC. Cannon was arrested after “knowingly and intentionally” knocking on the door to the governor’s office as Kemp signed the bill, according to an affidavit by Capitol police Officer E. Dorval.

Video of the incident shows Cannon approach a door to Kemp’s office suite, which was blocked by a state trooper. Cannon and the trooper exchange words that are inaudible on the video. Cannon then knocks. Two troopers grab Cannon, pull her arms behind her back and handcuff her. Cannon, a Black woman, was then taken away from the door and escorted – sometimes dragged – to an elevator and then outside the State Capitol by several white male troopers as supporters questioned her arrest. 

A video of the incident has been viewed more than 2.2 million times on Twitter.

Outside the State Capitol, Cannon was forcibly placed into a Capitol police cruiser while questioning troopers. A video shows at least six surrounding her. A single Black female Capitol police officer is standing nearby.

“Tell me where I am going and why I am being arrested,” Cannon asks.

Troopers attempt to push Cannon inside the police cruiser.

“Do not push my stomach,” Cannon says.

“Ma’am, get in the car,” a trooper responds.

“My arms hurt terribly. I do not understand why I am being arrested,” Cannon says.

The arrest warrants allege that Cannon assaulted one of the troopers arresting her. 

Cannon was “stomping on Lt. Langford foot three times during the apprehension and as she was being escorted out of the property,” according to the affidavit. The lawmaker “continued on kicking Lt. Langford with her heels.”

The portions of Cannon’s arrest captured on video do not show her stepping on the feet of law enforcement officers. 

State troopers forcibly put state Rep. Park Cannon into a police cruiser outside the State Capitol. (Image via video courtesy state Rep. Renitta Shannon)

Supporters denounce Cannon’s arrest

LGBTQ colleagues at the State Capitol – Cannon is one of seven queer state lawmakers – criticized the arrest. 

“Today [Park Cannon] was arrested for only doing her job,” state Rep. Renitta Shannon said in a tweet. “We are at the jail awaiting her release.”

Shannon, a Decatur Democrat. said the bill is “voter suppression on steroids” and accused supporters of the legislation of targeting Black voters.

State Rep. Matthew Wilson, a Brookhaven Democrat, called Cannon’s arrest “beyond unacceptable.”

“The arrest of my friend and colleague, Rep. Park Cannon, at the Capitol last night was beyond unacceptable,” Wilson tweeted.

Outside the jail late Thursday, Warnock denounced the arrest and the elections bill as “a very sad day for the State of Georgia.”

“What we have witnessed today is a desperate attempt to lockout and squeeze the people out of their own democracy. And in this effort, in this case, they are literally being locked down,” Warnock said. 

“She is an outstanding public servant. We are praying for her. We are praying for her family. We are praying also for Georgia and the soul of our democracy.”

Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, is Cannon’s pastor. Cannon was among a lengthy list of LGBTQ elected officials and advocates that supported his election to the U.S. Senate in January.

Stacey Abrams, a former state lawmaker who founded a coalition of organizations fighting for voting rights, called Cannon’s arrest a reminder of Georgia’s “dark past.”

“From passage of the SB202 voter suppression bill targeted at Black and brown voters to the arrest of a Black legislator who was advocating for the voting rights of her constituents, today was a reminder of Georgia’s dark past. We must fight for the future of our democracy,” Abrams said in a tweet.

Several voting organizations – including the New Georgia Project founded by Abrams – filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday to block the bill.

Kemp signed the bill Thursday less than an hour after lawmakers passed it. Cannon’s arrest interrupted Kemp as he delivered remarks during a live-streamed event that was closed to the public.

“I was proud to sign S.B. 202 to ensure elections in Georgia are secure, fair, and accessible. I appreciate the hard work of members of the General Assembly to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Kemp said in a tweet.

The bill adds new ID requirements for absentee ballots, limits ballot drop boxes, bans handing out food and water to voters, limits early voting and allows the State Elections Board to replace county panels that run elections. The measure also expands weekend voting before general elections.

The preceding article was published by Project Q Atlanta and is republished here by permission.

Matt Hennie is an Atlanta based journalist, entrepreneur, dog dad and founder of East Point Local and @ProjectQAtlanta.

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Miscellaneous

Texas Gov. introduces ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ amid LGBTQ+ book banning

The bill would amend the state’s constitution to “reinforce parents are the primary decision makers in all matters involving their children”

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Campaign reelection event photo from Texas Governor Greg Abbott's Personal Twitter Feed

LEWISVILLE, Tx. – Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott introduced plans to amend the state constitution to give parents primary power over their child’s education amid the governor’s effort to censor LGBTQ authors in schools. 

Abbott introduced the proposal – deemed the “Parental Bill of Rights” – Thursday at a campaign stop in Lewisville, Texas. The governor is running for a third term in the state’s 2022 election. 

The bill would amend the state’s constitution to “reinforce that parents are the primary decision makers in all matters involving their children,” according to a press release.

“The fact is no government program can or should replace the role that parents play in their children’s lives,” he said. “That’s why as Governor, I have fought to defend the rights of parents, whether it comes to education or health care.”

Among other things, the bill would expand parents’ access to course curriculum and materials available in schools, Abbott said. 

“When it comes to the classroom, Texas parents should have every right to know what their children are being taught,” he said. 

He added: “We will ensure that if a parent has a concern about curriculum or policies, that those concerns are heard quickly and respectfully.”

The announcement comes as Republican lawmakers in Texas, including Abbott, continue to target content they perceive as “inappropriate” in schools, much of which includes books by or about LGBTQ people. 

In November, the governor directed the Texas Education Agency to develop standards preventing “pornography” and other “obscene content in Texas public schools,” citing two memoirs about LGBTQ characters: “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe and “In the Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado. Both books deal with some mature topics but are recommended for high school-aged kids. 

Soon after the order, he instructed the agency to investigate “the availability of pornography” in the state’s public schools system. 

Last year, prominent civil rights organizations denounced Abbott’s efforts to censor LGBTQ authors. 

“Gov. Abbott’s letters labeling coming-of-age stories as pornography simply because they involve LGBTQ people are attempts to create educational environments rife with censorship of ideas and topics that students deserve to have access to,” said Avatara Smith-Carrington, staff attorney at Lambda Legal. “Students need materials and information created with them in mind, in which they can see their own identities and experiences reflected.”

At the event, Abbott also touted his efforts to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) – a college-level examination of the intersection of race and law that has become a hot button issue for Republicans – in schools, highlighting two bills he signed last year. “Now Texas has the toughest anti-CRT protections in the nation,” he said. 

“But, there is more we must do to preserve the rights of parents and give our children the future they deserve,” he added, referring to his Parental Bill of Rights.

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Community Services - PSA

LA County Parks winter classes are happening NOW!

Whether you’re looking to learn a new skill, pick up a hobby or instrument or simply be more active, there’s a class for everyone

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – LA County Parks is here to make your 2022 memorable. If you have not yet taken one of our classes, now is the time to register! Meet us safely outdoors at a park near you or join a class virtually from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you’re looking to learn a new skill, pick up a hobby or instrument or simply be more active, there’s a class for everyone. We offer a wide range of classes (held outdoors or virtually) for all ages.

FIND A CLASS TODAY

Here are just a few of the many classes we offer!

  • Arts & Culture: Music Mondays 🎵 Family & Me Music Class  
  • Computers and Technology: Become a Roblox Developer 💻 
  • Exercise and Fitness: Morning Senior Stretching (Virtual), Adrienne’s Salsa Cardio (Virtual) and Jay’s Fitness 365 Athletes ️ 
  • Health & Wellness: Brain Fit for Work and Life (Virtual), Integrating Essential Oils into your Everyday Life (Virtual) 🌱, Sound Bowl Healing Meditation  
  • Martial Arts: Karate and San Do Kai Karate  
  • Performing Arts, Music & Culture: Acting for the Camera (Virtual) 🎭, Ballet and Tap Dancing, Ballroom & Latin Dance 💃 and Modern Middle Eastern Belly Dance 
  • Special Interest Classes: Build, Paint & Race An Army Battle Tank, How to Become a Certified Livescan Provider (Virtual), Intro to Fashion Design (Virtual) 👗, Parent & Child Red Cross CPR, First Aid, AED and more 
  • Sports: Badminton, All Level Softball Clinics and European Tennis Academy 🎾
      

REGISTER ONLINE TODAY

Our quick and easy 24/7 online registration system Active Net allows you to manage everyone’s schedule through a single household account. Sign up for Winter Classes for yourself, partner and children from your smartphone or computer. To learn more about Active Net, visit parks.lacounty.gov/reserve/.  

COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for In-person Classes:
The health and well-being of park guests and staff is our top priority. In accordance with LA County Public Health, currently masks are required at all times for all participants.  Participants must maintain six feet physical distance from the instructor and staff at all times.

Follow LA County Parks on social media: Facebook @parks.lacounty.gov and Twitter/Instagram/TikTok @lacountyparks.

Share your experience using #LearnSomethingNew at #LACountyParks.  

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Community Services - PSA

We’re Hiring! Become a LA County Pool Lifeguard!

Candidates will get paid for a 64-hour training which includes becoming certified though the American Red Cross in Emergency Medical Response

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Castaic Sports Complex Aquatic Center (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – LA County Department of Parks and Recreation is hiring! This summer, the Department aims to hire over 250 new lifeguards to work at our 30 aquatic facilities, all across LA County. Not only is lifeguarding a fantastic way to kickstart your career, but it’s a great opportunity for young adults looking for part time employment while in school or looking for a career as a first responder.

Pool Lifeguards will receive a starting pay of $18.27, well above the minimum wage with opportunities to work year round. Applicants must be 17 years of age by time of appointment.

Those who meet the initial requirements will then be required to sign up and pass the Los Angeles County Swim Test. The Los Angeles County Swim Test consists of a 500-yard swim test that must be completed under 10 minutes. Upon completion of the test they will be invited to Pool Lifeguard Academy.

Candidates will get paid for a 64-hour training which includes becoming certified though the American Red Cross in Emergency Medical Response, CPR, AED, Lifeguarding, and First Aid.

SWIM TEST DATES AND LOCATIONS

Our Aquatics team is eager to help as many prospective candidates and interested students start a career path that can provide them with so many opportunities beyond lifeguarding!

Those who are interested in becoming a Pool Lifeguard are encouraged to attend an online “Open House” session to learn more about the position and answer questions.

VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE SESSIONS: 

Session 1: January 19, 6pm tinyurl.com/mr36m9mn
or call in:+13237766996,,17084440#

Session 2: January 25,  5pm tinyurl.com/2p9a27ty
or call in: +13237766996,,573214358#

Session 3: January 26,  4pm tinyurl.com/5n8ks28c
or call in: +13237766996,,602797897#

APPLY TO BECOME A LIFEGUARD TODAY!

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