Even though the 2018 midterm elections happened more than a week ago, the contentious Georgia governor race continues to rage on. On November 12th, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams filed a lawsuit in an attempt to override the rejection of more than 1,000 absentee ballots. And now, at recent protests at the state’s capitol, State Senator Nikema Williams was arrested—although a white state politician in attendance was not.
Local ABC affiliate WSB-TV reports that protesters assembled at the state capitol on November 13th, the day after a federal court judge ruled that Georgia would have to review thousands of provisional ballots by Friday, November 16th. Police eventually arrived on the scene and arrested 15 protesters, including Williams, restraining them with zip-ties.
Williams told WSB-TV that she was arrested because she refused to disperse.
According to HuffPost, state Representative David Dreyer—a white man—was also at the demonstration but was not arrested. After his colleague’s detention, Dreyer spoke to reporters outside the jail where she was being held, noting that he and Williams had headed to the protests around the same time but that “for some reason, Senator Williams was treated differently than I was.” He noted the high incarceration rates for black Americans.
Other legislators also defended Williams. State Senator Nan Orrock told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the incident was “a stark reminder that our right to freely assemble is at risk.” Williams was charged with obstruction and detained in jail for about five hours. After her release on bond, Williams told reporters that she felt she had been targeted.
She added that she will “continue to stand with the citizens of Georgia to demand that their votes be counted.”
We applaud Williams for standing with her constituents. Every vote deserves to be counted—in every election.