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Georgia GOP's Fond Return To A By-Gone Era: No Voting Or Knocking on Doors While Black

Abby Zimet


White guys for Jim Crow thought this picture looked good. Front photo by Alyssa Pointer/AJC

With only cheating and bullying and blatant racism left to them, Georgia's GOP went full Jim Crow this week, ignoring the massacre of six Asian women to pass an onerous 95-page bill to suppress voting by people of color in multiple ways - limiting early voting, restricting drop boxes, imposing new photo I.D's, taking over county election boards and criminalizing compassion by making it illegal to give food or water to any POC stubborn enough to wait in line 8 hours for their constitutional right to vote. Because it's not egregious enough a comic-book villain of a governor who stole the job was signing a racist bill he rushed through with the help of complicit corporations, he did it behind closed doors and got a mob of burly white cops to arrest a black female legislator who dared to come knocking to witness the travesty. In a surreal, now-viral scene, State Rep. Park Cannon (D) was accosted by a horde of State Patrol officers who've been eating way too many Cheetos - serve and protect who? - handcuffed, dragged away backwards and charged with felony and misdemeanor obstruction. The cops said she was "beating on the door." Cannon said she was neither the first nor last Georgian "to be arrested for fighting voter suppression.” Stacey Abrams said "the people will not forget the leadership that stole their votes." The ACLU said the whole tawdry scene "made the best possible case" for passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in the Senate. Hours after Kemp signed the bill, the first legal challenge was filed by the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund and Rise Inc; their 35-page complaint says it violates the Voting Rights Act and constitutional protections by imposing “unjustifiable burdens” that disproportionately impact people of color, the poor and others.
The outrageous, and illegal, arrest of a black female state legislator was only part of Kemp's problematic visuals around the bill. Clueless about even token diversity, his office released a photo of him proudly signing the bill - to make it "easy to vote, hard to cheat," thus repeating "the big lie"- surrounded by a phalanx of henchmen so blindingly white they begged for KKK hoods to be photoshopped in, which they were. Behind them - see picture vs 1,000 words - hung a painting of Callaway Plantation, an actual slave plantation, home to one of the era's largest slaveholders and a "monument to Georgia's history of brutal white supremacy."The painting, titled "Brickhouse Road," shows part of what's now a 56-acre historic site, where tourists can get “a glimpse into the by-gone era of working plantations in the agricultural South,” complete with movie night, ghost hunts, horse shows, craft fairs, and a time travelers camp for kids to play at butter-making and period dress-up. Activities do not include re-creating slaves running away and hounds biting "plugs out of their legs," or, says Uju Anya, lawmakers' "genocidal ancestors" raping, maiming, torturing, terrorizing and literally working to death over 300 black slaves. The image displayed as "sons of the white planter class" try to restrict black Georgians' right to vote and challenge their power, she says, reflects "the criminal legacy that gave them that power, and the blood money which continues to nurture it." "Sometimes, America's legacy of white supremacy is hiding in plain sight, literally," writes Will Bunch, tracing that legacy from slavery to Jim Crow segregation to Klan assaults to today's voter purges and mass incarceration. By using the painting "as a backdrop for signing a bill that would make it a crime to hand water to a thirsty voter waiting on Georgia’s sometimes hours-long voter lines," he writes, "the GOP governor was sending a clear message about race and human rights in the American South."
Here’s part of the video, from @hannahjoyTV, showing Democratic Rep. Park Cannon being detained by Georgia State Patrol outside an entrance to the Governor’s office. #gapol

— stephen fowler (@stphnfwlr) March 25, 20

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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