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Greg Abbott’s pardon promise exposes GOP's ‘law and order’ farce

The Texas governor and Republicans writ large are guided by the law according to Tucker Carlson and Kyle Rittenhouse.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s quest to pardon an Army sergeant recently convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester in 2020 is the latest proof that Republicans' “law and order” mantra has little, if anything, to do with enforcing the law. It has more to do with enforcing the GOP's apparent view of "order," one in which killing a police violence protester should go unpunished.

Daniel Perry was convicted Friday of murdering Garrett Foster in Austin, during the nationwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Perry and Foster — both white men — were armed with guns in a state that allows open carry. Foster was there with his fiancée, Whitney Mitchell, who is Black.

According to NBC News:

Police said Perry, based at the time 70 miles north at Fort Hood, was driving in downtown Austin on the evening of July 25, 2020, when he encountered demonstrators in the street and came to a stop.

Foster was legally carrying a semi-automatic rifle when he approached the intersection where protesters had gathered, police said, and was fatally shot by Perry, who stayed in the vehicle and used a handgun.

Perry claimed to police that Foster, an Air Force veteran, had pointed the weapon at him, inspiring him to shoot in self-defense, officials said. Foster was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Painting a fuller picture of Perry’s mindset, his social media and text messages showed a willingness, at least, to use violence against protesters. The Austin Chronicle reported:

The testimony confirming Perry’s anger toward protesters came on the third day of the trial as prosecutors displayed text messages and social media comments showing that he thought about killing them. “I might have to kill a few people on my way to work, they are rioting outside my apartment complex,” Perry wrote to a friend in June of 2020. “I might go to Dallas to shoot looters,” he wrote on another occasion. Perry also encouraged violence in a variety of social media posts.

It’s unsurprising, then, that the jury convicted Perry. It’s equally unsurprising that his case galvanized Republicans, who’ve denounced his conviction, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Kyle Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse, of course, became a conservative hero himself after his prosecution and acquittal in a similar case to Perry’s in 2021, for shooting three people, killing two of them, at a police violence protest in Wisconsin in 2020. Like Rittenhouse, Perry gets a pass from Abbott and Carlson because he's on their team, so to speak — a team that's privileged to inflict extrajudicial punishment upon police brutality protesters.

So it’s easy to see why Abbott is using his awesome power to right this perceived wrong. The governor wrote on Twitter the day after Perry’s conviction, before he’s even been sentenced:

Abbott’s post started with an obvious logical flaw, where he states 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 former Texas attorney general and state Supreme Court justice assumed, without proving, that the jury’s decision to convict Perry was the product of ignoring the law rather than applying it. Indeed, if Abbott is correct about the strength of the right to shoot people in his state, then all he’s doing is emphasizing how weak Perry’s self-defense argument was, according to the jury. (Of course, this case was made possible, in part, by a nation awash in guns, a lethal status quo perpetuated by politicians like Abbott.)

To be sure, no jury’s decision is sacrosanct for all time. That’s why we have appeals — and clemency, for that matter. But like the GOP's de facto leader Donald Trump did during his presidential term — which featured pardons for U.S. service members charged with war crimes and other assorted cronies, with the promise of Jan. 6 pardons to come if he’s elected again in 2024 — the manner in which Abbott has chosen to wield executive grace sends a clear message about who gets mercy while others face justice.