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 protester in 2020 after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) pardoned his killer two weeks ago.

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

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

“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 sparked by the murder of George Floyd. A jury found Perry guilty of murder in April 2023, and he was found not guilty of an aggravated assault charge.

Perry, who worked as an Uber driver, dropped off a passenger in downtown Austin. He allegedly saw Foster point an AK-47 rifle he was legally armed with toward him.

Perry shot Foster with a pistol because he feared for his life.

In the letter calling for the investigation, the group said the deadly incident came after 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, one of the attorneys general included in the letter, said in a statement. 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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