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Georgia Senator Nikema Williams: Black, Female and Under Arrest

Georgia state Senator Nikema Williams didn’t plan on being arrested last week. She certainly didn’t think she’d be zip-tied by cops and asked to submit to a strip search. But that’s what happened when she was in the Georgia State Capitol witnessing a ‘Count Every Vote’ protest on Tuesday, November 13, 2018.

“It was horrific experience,” Williams told our reporter, Zach D. Roberts, the day after her arrest. “They patted me down, like worse than you would get at a TSA pre-check, but then she told me to lift up my dress so they could make sure that I was not carrying something in my vaginal cavity. I am a sitting state senator, that you brought off the rotunda of the capital, and you’re searching me and wanting me to take my dress off to strip search me. And then they wanted me to pee in a cup so they could test my urine before they even told me what I was charged with.”
Williams’ husband works for John Lewis, who knows a thing or two about being arrested at a protest and offered to come down to the jail and get her out. Thankfully the trip wasn’t needed, but Williams is still asking why she, an African-American legislator was arrested, while her white colleagues weren’t. Her wrists were bruised by the plastic cuffs but she’s not backing down from the fight to make sure that the voters she represents have their voices heard and their votes counted.
In our exclusive interview above, Williams also talks about how her own niece was denied a provisional ballot while attempting to vote ”š an issue which is central to Stacey Abrams’ litigation to challenge the validity of the Georgia election.
Learn more about Abrams’ legal action and how our research and reporting will serve as key evidence.

Zach D Roberts is an investigative photojournalist who covers far-right extremism and voter suppression in America. He covered the Unite the Right Rally in Chalottesville and his work there helped put four white extremists in jail. He co-produced Greg Palast's films The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Vigilantes, Inc: America’s Vote Suppression Hitmen (out Fall 2024). Roberts is a Palast Investigative Fund Fellow and Puffin artist grant recipient.

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