Letitia James Sets Sights on Greg Abbott

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s recent pardon of Daniel Perry, who shot and killed a Black Lives Matter protester in 2020, is receiving backlash from state attorneys general around the country.

A group of 14 state attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, sent a letter on Wednesday to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s office urging the Department of Justice to look into whether Perry violated any federal civil rights laws. In addition to James, the letter was signed by the Democratic attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.

“We urge the Department to open an investigation into whether Mr. Perry violated federal criminal law, including specifically several federal criminal civil rights laws,” the letter states. “We note that whether or not Texas law gives Mr. Perry a defense to state prosecution for his actions here, Texas law does not prevent a federal prosecution for Mr. Perry’s act of killing someone for racial reasons in order to prevent him from exercising constitutional rights.”

Two weeks ago, Abbott pardoned Perry, an Uber driver who was convicted in 2023 of murdering anti–police brutality protester Garrett Foster at an Austin Black Lives Matter rally in 2020 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. After Perry’s conviction, his messages and social media posts were released to the public, where he self-identified as “a racist” and wrote of wanting to “go to Dallas to shoot looters.” With his pardon, Abbott even restored Perry’s firearm rights, claiming that “Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney.”

The attorneys general pointed to those particular laws as being a major reason for their letter.

Mr. Foster was openly carrying a firearm at the protest—an act that is legal in Texas—and Mr. Perry claimed that he had acted in self-defense, relying on Texas’ so-called “stand your ground” law. In pardoning Mr. Perry, Governor Abbott also cited to Texas’ “stand your ground” law. 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.

Abbott has openly feuded with the federal government about migrants and LGBTQ+ rights, and sent state troopers in full riot gear to violently clear college Gaza solidarity encampments. In spite of, or more likely because of his actions, Donald Trump has Abbott on his short list as a possible vice president.