Attorneys general urge federal probe of BLM protest killing after Texas governor pardon


A coalition of attorneys general from various states urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to open a civil rights investigation into the murder of a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protester in 2020 after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) pardoned his killer two weeks ago. 

The group of attorneys general, all Democrats, said that Garrett Foster, the protestor, was “exercising” his First Amendment right at the time when he was shot. They also slammed the case, saying the facts of it were “egregious.” 

The group, in their letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland, expressed concern over the “stand your ground” law, which Abbott mentioned when announcing Daniel Perry’s pardon in mid-May. 

“The undersigned Attorneys General are concerned that these “stand your ground” laws encourage vigilantes to attend protests armed and ready to shoot and kill those who exercise their First Amendment rights,’ the coalition said in the letter dated Wednesday. 

The Texas governor pardoned Perry, who was convicted of murder for fatally shooting Foster, an Air Force veteran, during a 2020 protest that sparked nationwide following the murder of George Floyd. Perry was found guilty by a jury in April 2023 of murdering Foster. He was found not guilty of an aggravated assault charge. 

Perry, who worked as an Uber driver, dropped off a passenger in downtown Austin, Texas. He saw Foster, who was legally armed and was carrying an AK-47 rifle and allegedly pointed the rifle towards Perry. 

Perry, who had a pistol, fired at Foster because he feared for his life. 

In the letter calling for the investigation, the group said the deadly incident came Perry “googled the locations of protests and sent a text message that he was considering traveling to another city to ‘shoot looters.’ His internet search history includes evidence that he intended to cover up his crime (including a search for whether ‘the federal government [has] the ballistics of every firearm sold legally’).” 

“When states fail to protect their residents from such violations of our civil rights, it’s imperative that DOJ steps in and ensures that justice is served,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement, one of the attorneys general included in the letter. Others are from Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

“We urge DOJ to investigate this incident and demonstrate that this will not be tolerated in America,” James said.

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