Hey, if you are cold blooded killer, move to Texas and start your killing sprees. The Govenor there coddles murderers and wishes all killers to move there and open fire on anyone that even looks like they are liberal. Hey, if you are pushing someone in a wheelchair, so what, kill him and be happy in the knowledge that the Govenor in Texas will pardon you for your crimes. It’s a Murder free for all in Texas, so all you murdering cowards from the right need to move there and start pulling out your pussy guns and start obliterating everyone you see. All you need to do after is claim that they looked at you wrong and you had to blow their asses away. The Govenor will pardon you for your crimes and you can go kill again and again and again and again.
The GOP’s assault on both democracy and the rule of law was on full display this week. There was the Tennessee GOP’s white supremacy preserving expulsion of two Black Democratic members of the state legislature—which I wrote about on Friday. Then there was GOP Rep. Jim Jordan’s new unprecedented attacks on the Manhattan DA’s prosecution of Donald Trump with his subpoena of former Manhattan assistant District Attorney Mark Pomerantz.
Then we come to Saturday. That is when GOP Texas Governor Gregg Abbott announced he would pardon a man convicted just 24 hours before of murdering a US military veteran who had taken part in a 2020 Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest. Why is Abbott–who only pardoned two people in all of 2022—so anxious to pardon the killer who shot 28 year-old Air Force veteran, Garrett Foster to death in the middle of a Texas street? Simple, because he was being “goaded” to do so by right wing figures from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to Kyle Rittenhouse to the chair of the Texas GOP.
Gov. Abbott pardoning a man convicted of MURDERING a BLM protester–who posted before the shooting he was going to kill someone–sends a dangerous message. Abbott is saying you can literally KILL people the GOP disagrees with politically and we will protect you.
The facts of the case are, for the most part, straightforward. On the night of July 25, 2020, defendant David Perry was working as an Uber driver in Austin during the time of protests surrounding the gruesome murder of George Floyd. As the Austin police detailed, Perry was driving his car when he approached BLM protesters blocking the traffic. At first, Perry honked at protesters as they walked through the street but then seconds later, Perry ran a red light, driving his car into the crowd.
That is when Perry and Foster—both white and both legally armed–came to meet. Foster was openly carrying his AK-47 when he and other protesters approached Perry’s car.
However, at this point there were conflicting accounts as to whether Foster had raised his weapon to point at Perry or if Perry shot first. Witnesses testified at trial that Foster had been pushing the wheelchair of his quadruple-amputee fiancée, Whitney Mitchell—who is pictured above— and never raised his assault rifle before Perry killed him. Perry claims he shot in self-defense after Foster pointed his weapon at him.
It’s undisputed, though, that Perry fired five shots from his .357 revolver through his car window killing Foster. Perry drove away but later did call the police to admit he killed Foster, claiming self-defense.
During the trial, the key question for the jury was whether Perry’s shooting was justified under the state’s “stand your ground” law–which allows deadly force to be used by a person who feels their life is in danger. Prosecutors argued Perry had instigated the incident and introduced messages that suggested the shooting by Perry was not spur of the moment, but pre-mediated.
One of the most damning was Perry’s Facebook message to a friend before the shooting that he might “kill a few people on my way to work. They are rioting outside my apartment complex.”
That is when Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and others on the right began to publicly pressure Gov. Abbott to in essence overturn the jury verdict by issuing a pardon because they didn’t agree with it. On his Fox News show Friday night shortly after the verdict, Carlson called on Abbott to pardon Perry, arguing the defendant had acted in self-defense—despite the jury unanimously rejecting that very defense. Carlson even attacked the prosecutor by employing the common anti-Semitic refrain from the right that he was a “Soros-funded DA”—as in Jewish billionaire George Soros supporting him. Carlson wrapped up by declaring that the verdict “means that in the state of Texas, if you have the wrong politics, you’re not allowed to defend yourself.”
Carlson is lying. Perry had the ability to fully defend himself in his trial. But the jury unanimously rejected Perry’s defense and found him guilty of murder.
Carlson was not alone in clamoring for Perry to be pardoned for killing a BLM protester, an organization that has been repeatedly demonized by the right with Donald Trump in 2020 calling it “a symbol of hate” and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in 2021 labeling the movement “the strongest terrorist threat in our county.” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement claiming that “the Soros-backed DA…cares more about the radical agenda of dangerous Antifa and BLM mobs than justice.”
GOP Rep. Ronny Jackson tweeted demanding that Abbott “PARDON Daniel Perry IMMEDIATELY!” Did he cite evidence that the jury made a mistake? Nope like other Republicans he invoked Soros, writing “don’t let a Soros-owned Austin liberal DA destroy our justice system.”
That is when Abbott announced he would ask the Texas parole board—which he appoints–to expedite the pardon paperwork for Perry which he vowed sign as soon as it “hits his desk.” Abbott’s rationale for the pardon was that: “Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney.”
But the jury was advised of the law, reviewed the facts and decided Perry was guilty. Jennifer Laurin, a University of Texas law professor, responded to the portion of Abbott’s statement on Texas’ self-defense laws to the Austin Statesmen. She stated that a jury is instructed to reject this defense when the person asserting it provoked the response, as prosecutors say Perry did when he drove his car into a crowd of protesters. “Painting the conviction as rogue nullification is uniformed or deceptive,” Laurin tweeted.
And if the verdict was so clearly wrong, then Perry should appeal. But apparently no appeal has even been filed yet. In fact, David Wahlberg, a former Travis County criminal court judge, told the Austin Statesmen that he can’t think of another case in Texas history when a governor sought a pardon before a verdict was formally appealed.
And former Texas prosecutor Rick Cofer also explained to The Austin Statesmen, Abbott’s pardon of Perry is a, “Total abrogation of the rule of law…this is legally wrong,” adding it’s, “Pure politics.”
Abbott’s message is that he will overturn a jury verdict not based on the law but to make people like Tucker Carlson and other Republicans happy. That is not what the rule of law looks like. Rather, it’s weaponization of the judicial system for political gain.
Abbott is also—alarmingly—indicating that if you literally murder a person that is part of an organization, we, Republicans hate like “BLM,” we will have your back regardless what a jury says. Will Abbott’s pardon embolden others to attack BLM protesters or others engaged in protesting for liberal causes? Let’s hope not.
But one thing is certain: The GOP’s repeated rejection of democracy and the rule of law reminds us that we must utterly defeat the GOP in 2024 if we want to remain a democratic Republic.