“I was singled out as a black female senator standing in the rotunda with constituents in the Capitol, a body that I serve in," State Senator Nikema Williams says.
Police in Georgia on Tuesday arrested Democratic state senator Nikema Williams for participating in a peaceful "Count Every Vote" rally inside the Capitol building. She was arrested, handcuffed, and removed from the state legislature, and later strip searched she says, according to a report in The New Yorker and later, a tweet from staff writer Charles Bethea.
Not only was Senator Nikema Williams arrested, handcuffed, and strip searched, she was placed in a van of mostly women. The two women in the van who were white, and presumably under arrest as well, were "the only ones with loose cuffs," one of the women who was arrested says. And a white male state senator at the rally was not arrested, The Huffington Post notes.
“I was not yelling. I was not chanting. I stood peacefully next to my constituents because they wanted their voices to be heard, and now I’m being arrested,” Senator Williams, who represents Atlanta, told reporters, according to The Washington Post and the video below.
— Maya T. Prabhu (@MayaTPrabhu) November 13, 2018
“I was singled out as a black female senator standing in the rotunda with constituents in the Capitol, a body that I serve in, and I was singled out and arrested today for standing with so many Georgians who are demanding that every vote be counted,” Williams told reporters after she was released, The Washington Post reports, as this video shows:
BREAKING: @NikemaForSenate just got released from jail after being arrested at today’s #counteveryvote rally at the Georgia Capitol. “I am incredibly proud and will continue to stand with the citizens of Georgia to demand that their votes be counted.” pic.twitter.com/SA5V3F1oAN
— Care In Action (@CareInActionUSA) November 14, 2018
It is unclear if Senator Williams' constitutional rights were violated. The Georgia constitution bans arrest of lawmakers while their chamber is in session except for "treason, felony, or breach of the peace."
Sen. Williams "was charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer and preventing or disrupting general assembly sessions or other meetings of members, jail records show. Both are misdemeanors," The Post adds.
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