Texas’s pardon of the killer of a Black Lives Matter protester sends a chilling message

Texas’s pardon of the killer of a Black Lives Matter protester sends a chilling message

Tayo Bero writes:

This month, the Texas state parole board unanimously recommended the pardon and release of convicted killer and former US army sergeant Daniel Perry, along with the restoration of his firearm rights. Perry had been working as an Uber driver in July 2020 when he shot and killed Garrett Foster, a white man who was attending a Black Lives Matter protest with his Black fiancee. Perry was later indicted for murder, tried, convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison by an Austin jury.

Almost a year from the date of his sentencing, Perry’s pardon was granted by Texas governor Greg Abbott, and he now walks free. As terrifying as the initial incident was, this pardon sends a chilling message: that politically motivated killing is OK, and that politicians are more focused on pandering to political pressure than protecting people’s lives.

During Perry’s trial, it emerged that in the weeks before he killed Foster, he had shared white-supremacist memes and talked about how he “might have to kill a few people” who were demonstrating outside his house in 2020. He also compared the Black Lives Matter movement to “a zoo full of monkeys that are freaking out flinging their shit”. And days into nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer, Perry sent a text message saying: “I might go to Dallas to shoot looters.”

Perry described shooting Foster as an act of self-defense. Yet according to trial testimony about the day Foster died, Perry had seen the predominantly Black group of protesters gathered across the street from him, ran a red light and drove his car right into the middle of the protest. When Foster – who was legally carrying a firearm but had not, according to some eyewitnesses, threatened Perry – approached Perry’s car, he shot him dead and sped away.

In rehashing this horrendous incident, the question on my mind is: how do you justify “pardoning” a person like this? Condemning Perry’s release isn’t about believing in carcerality or wanting to keep people in prisons, mind you; it’s about how we get to this point as a society, whom we grant permission to kill, and how we treat the people involved in a tragedy like this in its aftermath.

Abbott – who rarely issues pardons, and has generally only pardoned low-level, nonviolent offenders – had faced pressure from conservative media figures to grant Perry one. Rightwing pundits like former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and even Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi squeezed him publicly about Perry’s conviction. It doesn’t seem like Abbott needed much convincing, though, seeing as he directed the parole board to review Perry’s case just one day after he was convicted. [Continue reading…]

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