The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, is “working as swiftly as Texas law allows” to have Daniel Perry pardoned. Perry was recently convicted of the murder of a Black Lives Matter protester during the mass protests in 2020. Abbott took up the crusade to push for a pardon only after Tucker Carlson called him out on his show to free Perry.
Daniel Perry is a U.S. Army Sergeant who was working as an Uber driver in Austin on the night of July 25, 2020. During the night, witnesses reported that Perry was driving dangerously close to protesters in Austin. Garrett Foster was one of those protesters. He was attending the protest with his fiancee and was legally carrying an AK-47. Perry, who was carrying his own firearm, fired multiple shots through his window at Foster, killing him.
Perry claims that Foster pointed his gun at him and that he shot in self-defense. But witnesses say that Foster not only didn’t point his gun at anyone, he didn’t even raise it at the protest. In fact, the witnesses say that Perry began the encounter when he drove his car through a red light towards protesters. And even before this, Perry had sent messages to friends on Facebook saying that he “might go to Dallas to shoot looters,” while his search history shows that he looked up where protests were taking place.
Abbott wants to move ahead with a pardon despite Perry not yet having been sentenced. Under Texas state law, a governor cannot unilaterally pardon anyone, but must first receive a recommendation from the Texas State Board of Pardons and Paroles. Abbott, as governor, appoints the members of the Board and hopes that he can influence them to approve his request.
Abbott’s actions are a part of a terrifying trend towards the normalization of far-right violence, especially against protesters and mass movements. We saw the same phenomenon when Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of killing 2 protesters at a Black Lives Matter protest and claiming self defense – even though it was Rittenhouse who came armed to “defend” private property. Rittenhouse even tweeted his support for Perry and said that Abbott should “do the right thing” and quickly pardon him.
Abbott, Carlson and their ilk are doing everything they can to normalize, protect, and in essence encourage more far-right vigilante violence in the U.S. They are trying to encourage fear of and violence against mass movements that might challenge their dominant place in our society. This pardon, along with verdicts like the one Kyle Rittenhouse received, send a clear message to the far right: kill members of any group that wants change, and we’ll protect you.
We shouldn’t be surprised if we see more of this. In fact, we should expect it.