Cannon’s comments came a day after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said her office would not pursue a criminal case against Cannon. State troopers arrested the queer lawmaker on March 25 after she knocked on Kemp’s office door as he signed into law a controversial elections bill. They charged her with two felonies.
On Thursday, Cannon thanked Willis for closing the case.
“I want to thank God for it is by his grace that I can stand here today at our State Capitol after what has felt like the longest two weeks of my life free from the threat of eight years in prison for simply doing my job,” Cannon said.
“But today I have come to tell the world it is time to lean in. The joy that I feel for the dismissal of the charges faced is tempered by the fact that I should have never been arrested in the first place,” she added.
Cannon then criticized Kemp for signing the legislation while flanked by six white lawmakers underneath a painting of Calloway Plantation, a former slave plantation in northeast Georgia.
“Two weeks ago today, Brian Kemp sat in his office surrounded by a group of good old boys and signed into law one of the most racist pieces of legislation in my lifetime. To emphasize the weight of this act, they strategically positioned themselves under a disgraceful painting of a Southern plantation as if to remind the world of their commitment to apartheid,” she said.
The lawmaker also delivered a blistering critique of the legislation, which critics have called “Jim Crow 2.0.”
“This very act was equivalent to taking a noose and placing it not around just one Black or Brown Georgian, but taking nooses and simultaneously placing them around five million Black and Brown voters and lynching us all at the same time with one stroke of a pen,” Cannon said.
Kemp, House Speaker David Ralston and other Republican leaders have criticized Cannon since the arrest last month. Kemp called her a “distraction” while Ralston compared her to U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, a Georgia lawmaker facing a national backlash for her incendiary social media posts and attacks on transgender people.
On Wednesday, Willis said her office investigated the allegations against Cannon, reviewed video of the incident and statements from police, and interviewed witnesses before deciding against pursuing the case.
“After reviewing all of the evidence, I have decided to close this matter. It will not be presented to a grand jury for consideration of indictment, and it is now closed,” Willis said in prepared statement.
“While some of Representative Cannon’s colleagues and the police officers involved may have found her behavior annoying, such sentiment does not justify a presentment to a grand jury of the allegations in the arrest warrants or any other felony charges,” she added.
Cannon’s attorney, Gerald Griggs, said they are considering filing a lawsuit over the arrests.
“Facts and evidence showed to the world that [Cannon] committed no crime and should not have ever been arrested,” Griggs tweeted. “We thank the district attorney for her thorough review of the evidence and are weighing our next legal actions.”
By Thursday afternoon, donations to a legal defense fund for Cannon reached nearly $90,000. Organizers of the campaign hope to raise $250,000.