Texas governor pardons murderer of BLM protester

Garrett Foster with partner Whitney Mitchell.

Houston

On May 16, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pardoned Daniel Perry, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for murdering a man protesting with Black Lives Matter in July 2020 in downtown Austin, Texas.

Perry, a 30-year-old white man who had posted numerous racist statements on social media, drove his car into the crowd and killed Garrett Foster, one of the protesters. Foster, who was also white, was pushing his life partner in her wheelchair when he was gunned down.

In July 2021, nearly a year after the killing, Perry was indicted by a Travis County (Austin) grand jury on charges of murder and aggravated assault. He was tried and convicted by a trial jury in April 2023, and sent to prison on May 10, 2023. Abbott asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to investigate the murder charge, and after a year the board, all appointed by the governor, recommended a pardon. 

After George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered in May of 2020 by three racist Minneapolis cops, outrage spread from coast to coast and around the world. The Black Lives Matter movement grew by leaps and bounds and included people of all ages and nationalities.

Outraged by this pardon, reactions were swift. Whitney Mitchell, Foster’s partner, said that she had expected to grow old with Foster before Perry murdered him. Mitchell said: “Daniel Perry texted his friends about plans to murder a protester he disagreed with. After a lengthy trial, with an abundance of evidence, 12 impartial Texans determined that he carried out that plan and murdered my Garrett.

“With this pardon, the Governor has desecrated the life of a murdered Texan and U.S. Air Force veteran, and impugned that jury’s just verdict. He has declared that Texans who hold political views that are different from his — and different

from those in power — can be killed in this state with impunity.”

Senator Borris L. Miles, an African American state legislator, immediately wrote to the governor, saying, “The pardon sends the wrong message and is a slap in the face to the judicial process.  This is not the Texas I want to see. I want a Texas where a conviction handed down by a jury of your peers has meaning. I want a Texas where Fox News does not dictate state policy. I want a Texas where the law is applied equally. Until I see that Texas, I will continue to speak out on travesties such as this.” 

The governor’s pardon of Perry contrasted with his position after the pardons board recommended a posthumous pardon for George Floyd, who had a minor drug conviction while living in Houston. Abbott took no action in Floyd’s case, denying him a pardon.

Abbott’s pardon of Perry came despite new evidence that surfaced following his conviction. The Austin American Statesman reported on April 13, 2023, that a Travis County state district judge unsealed court records that reveal anti-protester social media posts and racist messages that the jury did not see or hear while deciding whether to convict Perry on a murder charge. The posts unsealed May 16, 2023, included hateful messages, with the admission, “It is official I am a racist.”   

In another Facebook post on June 1, 2020, white supremacist Perry wrote a vile message which dehumanized and slandered Black people, using  racist stereotypes.  He viciously attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, attempting to whip up more racist hostility against the countrywide mobilization calling for “Justice for George Floyd,” which began May 26, the day after his murder by police.

Abbott’s bid for Trump VP

According to a May 17 article in the Texas Monthly, the news of the pardon came “soon after Abbott deployed state police, heavily armed, to crack down on another peaceful protest movement that is unpopular among his supporters: the rally at the University of Texas Austin against Israel’s conduct during its war against Hamas in Gaza.”

Abbott’s outrageous actions are part of his agenda to appeal to Trump for a vice-presidential spot on the Republican ballot. His racist disregard for migrants, for pushing charter schools instead of funding public education, for allowing prisoners to die from the Texas summer heat — these actions put Abbott on the other side of the barricade from the majority of Texans in his class war on working people and oppressed peoples across this vast state.

Gloria Rubac

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Gloria Rubac

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