Garrett Foster

An attendee lights a candle at a vigil for Garrett Foster on July 26, 2020 in downtown Austin, Texas.

(Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

'Alliance With White Nationalists': Texas Gov Rebuked for Pardoning Shooter of BLM Protester

"This pardon not only undermines the justice system but also sends a chilling message that politically motivated violence is acceptable," said Democratic Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a pardon on Thursday for Daniel Perry, who was convicted of fatally shooting Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster in 2020.

Abbott's pardon came less than an hour after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended it, Austin-based investigative journalist Tony Plohetski noted on social media. In addition to releasing him from prison, the pardon grants Perry "restoration of full civil rights of citizenship," including the right to own a gun.

"Before Daniel Perry murdered a veteran in 2020, he told a friend he 'might go to Dallas to shoot looters.' A year before, he wrote, 'to bad we can't get paid for hunting Muslims,'" Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) wrote in response to the news. "Gov. Abbott's alliance with white nationalists is putting dangerous people on our streets."

"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."

Perry shot Foster on July, 25, 2020 in Austin. At the time an active duty Army sergeant and Uber driver, Perry accelerated his car toward a group of people protesting the police killing of George Floyd. Some of the protesters approached his car, including 28-year-old Air Force veteran Foster, who was legally open carrying an AK-47. Perry then shot Foster four times with a .357 Magnum pistol.

Perry's lawyers said that Perry acted in self-defense and that Foster had started to point his gun at him, according toThe New York Times. However, Perry told police that Foster had not actually aimed at him but that he "didn't want to give him a chance" to do so.

Perry also had a history of making violent and racist remarks on social media. In one 2020 message, shared at the trial, he said he "might have to kill a few people on my way to work."

A jury voted in 2023 to convict Perry of murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; he was later sentenced to 25 years in prison. However, a day after his conviction and before he was even sentenced, Abbott said he was "working as swiftly" as possible to pardon him. In Texas, all pardons must come through the board, but its members were all appointed by Abbott.

"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," Abbott said in a statement announcing the pardon. "I thank the board for its thorough investigation, and I approve their pardon recommendation."

Foster's family members reacted with shock and dismay to the news.

His mother, Sheila, told The New York Times that she would leave Texas because of Abbott's pardon.

"I feel like I'm in a Twilight Zone episode. This doesn't happen," she said. "It seems like this is some kind of a political circus and it's costing me my life."

She added that Foster "deserved so much better" and was "out there protecting people from people like Perry."

Foster's partner Whitney Mitchell said: "I am heartbroken by this lawlessness. Gov. Abbott has shown that, to him, only certain lives matter. He has made us all less safe."

"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," she further toldHouston Public Media. "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."

Public and elected officials also criticized Abbott's pardon.

Travis County District Attorney José Garza, who prosecuted the case, said the pardon board and Abbott had made a "mockery of our legal system."

"Their actions are contrary to the law and demonstrate that there are two classes of people in this state where some lives matter and some lives do not," Garza continued. "They have sent a message to Garrett Foster's family, to his partner, and to our community that his life does not matter."

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) suggested the pardon was politically motivated.

"Let's call this for what it is: From the start, Abbott wanted to pardon this racist murderer to score political points with MAGA Republicans," Doggett wrote on social media.

Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-27), chairman of the Texas Black Legislative State Caucus, said in a statement that "the blatant hypocrisy in this decision is beyond comprehension" and it was an "all-time low, even for the governor."

"This pardon not only undermines the justice system but also sends a chilling message that politically motivated violence is acceptable," Reynolds continued. "This decision is a slap in the face to the Foster family, the Black Lives Matter movement, and to all who believe in justice and equality."

Reynolds added: "Gov. Abbott's actions are not only disappointing—they are deeply disturbing. They reveal a willingness to ignore the rule of law and cater to a dangerous ideology that puts lives at risk. This pardon sets a dangerous precedent that undermines public trust in our legal system and emboldens those who seek to harm others under the guise of political dissent."

Notably, the pardon board recommended a posthumous pardon for Floyd, whose killing by the Minneapolis police sparked the protests where Perry killed Foster. Floyd had a drug charge on the books from his time in Houston that, according to Austin lawyer Rick Cofer, stemmed from drug planting by corrupt cops. Abbott responded to that recommendation by pressuring the board to rescind it, which they eventually did.

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