Republicans—whether we’re talking about elected officials, legislators, Supre Court Justices or other appointed officials—prove time and time again that they have zero qualms with changing, manipulating or outright forcing the rule of law to fit a hard-right conservative agenda. We’ve seen this with the white ignorance and fragility-fueled Republican war against critical race theory. We’ve seen it in how they propose and pass arbitrary voter suppression laws under the guise of securing elections they can’t prove need securing. We saw it in Tennessee where two Black Democrats were expelled from the state House because they led a protest advocating stricter gun laws. And now we see it in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott—who is guilty of just about all the aforementioned conservative abuses of power—has promised to pardon a murder convict who drove his car into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters and shot one of the protesters to death.
We all know that when it comes to “stand your ground” laws officials tend to be selective about who qualifies to use the defense. Many times it’s really simple: The armed white guy is standing his ground while the armed Black guy put himself in a position to be killed. But what does a Republican do when both men who were practicing their Republican-approved and fiercely protected Second Amendment rights when one killed the other? Well, obviously the Republican in power wields said power against the murdered man who was advocating for Black lives.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, on July 25, 2020, Daniel Perry, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, ran a red light in Austin, Texas, and drove right into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters. During the chaos Perry ignited, he shot and killed Garrett Foster, who was carrying an AK-47 rifle, which Perry told police he raised at him before Perry pulled his .357 revolver and shot him five times. Apparently, it doesn’t matter that witnesses said differently. It also doesn’t matter that shortly before the event, Perry posted that he might “kill a few people on my way to work” because “they are rioting outside my apartment complex.”
In fact, it also doesn’t matter that he ran the red light, or that a jury convicted him of murder last Friday. Abbott and other right-wingers decided to take it at face value that Perry only fired at Foster after Foster raised his rifle at him, despite Perry literally telling a detective, “I didn’t want to give him a chance to aim at me.”
They’ve also taken it at face value that Perry didn’t intentionally run a red light and drive into the crowd, and they certainly won’t consider that such an action might warrant a protester standing his own ground with his AK-47, a rifle Republicans are usually defending to the death an Americans right to own and use if necessary.
If fact, less than 24 hours after the guilty verdict, Abbott promised to use his power as governor to ignore the jury and the justice system and pardon Perry, after being urged to do so by countless conservative BLM haters such as white nationalist “news” personality Tucker Carlson and veteran protester killer Kyle Rittenhouse, who can obviously relate to Perry’s self-inflicted plight and just wants to see a fellow unhinged shooter share his fortune and walk away from any semblance of accountability. (It’s also worth mentioning that Carlson, who once referred to Jan. 6 rioters as “gentle people” and has used his platform to spin the Capitol attack into an innocent MAGA patriot field trip, referred to the crowd Perry drove into as a “mob of rioters.” But nah, I’m sure his journalistic integrity is as intact as Abbott’s ethics and Rittenhouse’s ability to refrain from showing off his massive persecution complex every other day.)
“Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand your ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or progressive district attorney,” Abbott wrote in a statement he posted to Twitter Saturday. “I will work as swiftly as Texas law allows regarding the pardon of Sgt. Perry.”
“I have made that request and instructed the board to expedite its review,” Abbott went on to say. “I look forward to approving the board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk.”
Abbott can’t legally issue a pardon without first getting a recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, whose members he appointed, and legal experts in Texas appear to agree that even announcing explicitly that he will pardon Perry without said recommendation is egregious, to say the least.
From the Statesman:
David Wahlberg, a former Travis County criminal court judge, said he cannot think of another example in the state’s history when a governor sought a pardon before a verdict was formally appealed.
Jennifer Laurin, a University of Texas law professor, addressed the portion of Abbott’s statement on Texas’ self-defense laws. She said that a jury is instructed to reject the 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 uninformed or deceptive,” Laurin tweeted.
I mean, “uninformed and deceptive” is pretty much the Republican conservative love language.
Defense lawyer and former prosecutor Rick Cofer, who was not involved in the trial, also denounced Abbott’s announcement and implied the good governor is giving big dictator energy (and you will certainly struggle to find the lie).
“It’s what happens in Uganda or El Salvador,” Cofer said. “Total abrogation of the rule of law. And what’s even worse is that Abbott knows better. He was a smart Texas Supreme Court Justice. He knows this is legally wrong. Profoundly wrong. Pure politics.”
Anyway, Foster’s brother, Ryan Foster, told the Statesman Saturday that he didn’t think Perry should be pardoned.
“This was clearly premeditated,” Ryan said. “He (Perry) thought a lot about it and planned on doing it…He wanted to kill a protester and saw somebody exercising their Second Amendment right.”
Whitney Mitchell, Foster’s fiancée, said in a statement that she “felt some sense of justice and relief” when Perry was convicted, but Abbott “has immediately taken that away since he announced there are two legal systems in Texas: One for those with power, like Mr. Perry, and one for everyone else.”
According to the Statesman, Perry is facing up to life in prison and State District Judge Clifford Brown is set to sentence him to prison in the coming days, although it’s unclear the exact date sentencing will take place.
Unfortunately, none of that may even matter, because when Republican conservatives have an agenda to push, all of that “party of law and order” nonsense goes out the window.
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