In the summer of 2020, following the police murder of George Floyd, millions of people around this country, from different races and backgrounds, rose up to fight the plague of white supremacist police brutality and murder of Black people. Throughout that summer, a white man named Garrett Foster joined protests in Austin, Texas—standing up for Black lives in a state founded as a refuge for slaveholders.
This was righteous and beautiful. But in the middle of one of these protests, on July 25, a fanatically racist rideshare driver and Army sergeant, Daniel Perry, drove his car into the crowd; in the ensuing confrontation, he shot and killed Garrett Foster. In the weeks leading up to the murder, Perry had been sending Facebook messages about killing protesters. On May 31, he wrote, "I might have to kill a few people on my way to work, they are rioting outside my apartment complex." He also discussed how he might get away with killing a protester if it could be claimed as self-defense.
“Legitimizing” Murder of Protesters
Last week, on April 7, a jury found Daniel Perry guilty of murder. But less than 24 hours after this guilty verdict was announced, the Christian-fascist governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, announced his intention to pardon Perry. He did this despite the facts that he hadn’t attended the trial or reviewed a transcript. Think about that. He did not attend the trial, had not reviewed the transcript, and yet immediately went into action to wipe out the verdict the jury came to after seriously considering the facts and the law. He announced that he intends to pardon Perry before he had even been sentenced by the judge! Abbott tweeted: “I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk.” He publicly pressured the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to hand him a pardon recommendation.
Abbott cited Texas’s Stand Your Ground laws, which in theory protect the right of self-defense without fear of criminal prosecution. It should go without saying that driving your car into protesters, inciting a confrontation, and then shooting down a protester is not self-defense. Perry and other fascists back up their lie of self-defense with the fact that Garrett Foster was carrying an AK-47, which is legal in Texas. By multiple eyewitness accounts, Foster did not point his weapon at Perry, and Perry himself kept changing his story. In an initial statement to the police, he said, “I didn’t want to give him a chance to aim at me, you know?”
In this country founded on slavery and genocide, with its deeply rooted white supremacy, Stand Your Ground has been a sick joke used to justify vigilante violence against Black people, and now is being used to threaten protesters. It’s also clear that in this situation, only one person’s Second Amendment rights matter to Abbott and his fellow fascists: the same Second Amendment they invoke in their calls for civil war has never applied to Black people or on behalf of Black people.
Additional racist messages from Perry have surfaced since the verdict, which were not presented in trial but revealed by unsealed court records: messages like “Black Lives Matter is racist to white people… it is official I am racist because I do not agree with people acting like monkeys.” Perry was sending these messages at a time when vehicle attacks on protesters were becoming a common form of fascist violence and intimidation. Between May 27 and July 7, 2020, there had been 72 reported incidents of drivers speeding into crowds of protesters.
The beautiful rising of 2020 presented a political crisis of legitimacy for this whole system, which relies on police terror. It was especially a nightmare for the fascist movement that had risen to the highest levels of power with Donald Trump. Encouraged by Trump, fascists in and out of uniform unleashed extralegal violence to crush these protests. Now this pig Abbott, spurred on by fascists from all over the country, is eager to break long-standing rules of the system in order to override a jury verdict against a fascist shock trooper.
If this pardon goes through, it will have a further chilling effect on righteous protests at a time when all the decent people need to be speaking out, standing up, and putting something on the line to resist these fascist assaults. The possible pardon of the sadistic hate-filled racist who murdered Garrett Foster should be protested by anyone who believes in justice!
Abbott: A Rabid Fascist in a Country Full of Fascists
Abbott has been running Texas as a fascist laboratory for eight years—enslaving women and girls with a six-week and now a total ban on abortion; waging a genocidal war on immigrants at the border; terrorizing trans youth and their families; disenfranchising Black and Brown people, and so much more.
But even this rabid fascist was not moving fast enough for an ever-hardening, violent, lunatic fascist movement. Outraged that this verdict didn’t go the way of Kyle Rittenhouse (the fascist youth who gunned down three protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and was acquitted), Tucker Carlson of Fox Fascist News dedicated one of his nightly rants to this case: “It means that in the state of Texas, if you have the wrong politics, you’re not allowed to defend yourself…. So that is Greg Abbott’s position: there is no right of self-defense in Texas.” This broadcast took place before Abbott’s promise, and was clearly designed to both pressure him and ease the way for him to carry out that pardon.
Among a fascist base that is armed to the teeth and preparing for civil war, there can be no greater accusation against one of their own. Kyle Rittenhouse himself weighed in on Twitter, and the fascist mob started spreading calls for Abbott to “Do something!,” with unsubstantiated claims of jury and witness tampering, and the now common anti-Semitic slur of “Soros prosecutor” against the Travis County DA José Garza.1
The very next day, Abbott fell in line. Then he went further, announcing that state lawmakers were working on legislation to undermine the power of Democrats in their own jurisdictions, where what he calls “rogue District Attorneys” won’t enforce Draconian fascist laws or stand in the way of their full implementation. He specifically has in mind Travis County, where Austin is located, and Harris County, home to most of Houston.
A System That Requires Racist Police Violence, a Revolution That Is Needed
For all their talk, the Democratic Party contends with the fascists for control of a system that requires police violence and brutality in order to function. (See Revolution’s The Oppression of Black People & the Revolutionary Struggle to End All Oppression for a fuller examination of this, including several important articles and speeches by Bob Avakian.) The Democrats rely on this police violence as a foundation of their rule just as much as the Republi-fascists do, and they are every bit as pro-pig as them. Like Joe Biden says, their plan is to “fund the police, fund the police, fund the police.” But while the Republi-fascists whip up racist, ignorant mobs, and encourage fascist foot soldiers to drive into protests and shoot protesters, the Democrats want to leave responsibility for all the violence and suppression of protest to the police. They also don’t want to take on these fascists and their guns, and they don’t want anyone else to, either. They live in fear that the fascist base will get even more unleashed, more violent, more “out of the basement and off their chains.”
The righteous rebellion of 2020, which Garrett Foster gave his life for, showed both the potential power and determination of the people when they DO rise. But at the same time, the fact is that so long as things remain within the confines of what this system will allow, the outrage of police murder will continue and even grow worse—as it has in the very years that followed this uprising. Most profoundly, the rebellion of 2020 shows the potential and need for revolution—a real revolution to truly emancipate the masses of Black people, and bring an end to oppression everywhere.
This revolution is even more possible now, when the rulers are at each other’s throats and the world as we know it is being torn asunder. Every week there are new shocks and jolts, from the actions of fascists and the major problems facing humanity because of the workings of this system, which can cause people to question why things are the way they are and if there is a way out. This rare time must not be squandered. People’s sights must be lifted, and their heads turned to revolution and the truly emancipating roadmap laid out by Bob Avakian.
As Bob Avakian says in his talk Something Terrible, OR Something Truly Emancipating,
Everything depends on bringing forward a revolutionary people, from among the most bitterly oppressed, and all parts of society, first in the thousands and then in the millions, as a powerful revolutionary force, organized from the start and consistently with a country-wide perspective, impacting all of society and changing the terms of how masses of people see things and how every institution has to respond. Everything must be focused now on actually bringing forward and organizing this revolutionary force.