On Friday, a Texas jury unanimously convicted Daniel Perry, a man who shot and killed a Black Lives Matter protester in the summer of 2020. While Texas prides itself as a "stand your ground" state—hence all the recent mass murders—Perry's act of murder appeared to be brazenly premeditated. In social media posts Perry sneered that he might "kill a few people on my way to work. They are rioting outside my apartment complex" and that he "might go to Dallas to shoot looters." He argued with a friend over whether that would be legal; that friend warned him that "we went through the same training" and "Shooting after creating an event where you have to shoot" is "not a good shoot."
Two weeks later Perry ran a red light and "accelerated" into a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin, Texas. As protesters approached Perry rolled down his window and emptied his handgun at 28 year old Air Force veteran Garrett Foster, who was legally carrying an AK-47 rifle. Perry would tell police afterwards that Foster was raising his weapon; none of the witnesses at the scene agreed. The Texas jury determined that Perry had intentionally murdered Foster.
Within 24 hours, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott took to social media himself to vow that he would pardon Daniel Perry as "swiftly" as he is able to. "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," tweeted Abbott. Abbott announced that he had already requested the Board of Pardons and Paroles to review Perry's conviction and "instructed the Board to expedite its review."
Abbott appeared to presume the outcome was already predestined: "I look forward to approving the Board's pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk."
As for why Abbott is responding with such urgency here, it is for the usual reason. Fascist and white nationalist provocateur Tucker Carlson singled Abbott out just hours after the verdict and Abbott rushed to meet Tucker's demands like the gutless supplicant he remains.
We have seen the Republican Party's aggressive support for its own violent fringe many times now, from the celebration of killer Kyle Rittenhouse's murder of protesters to House and Senate Republican attempts to sabotage investigations into the Jan. 6 coup attempt. The Perry case is among the less nuanced we've seen; there's no question that Perry intentionally drove his car into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters after gaming out how he would then use the event as cover to "kill a few people."
Perry's victim, Garrett Foster, also allegedly had the same "Stand Your Ground" rights that Perry was relying on; Abbott, however, has decided that the white anti-BLM vigilante's rights are the ones that have been violated, and not anyone in the crowd Perry drove into.
There's simply no question that the Republican Party is now acting to back conservatives that engage in political violence and murder. None. "The GOP is now the party of conscienceless killers," tweets journalist David Neiwert. "Their platform is to consistently support the ability of men with guns to murder anyone Republicans don’t like."
The intent of Republican "Stand Your Ground" laws has always been to allow Republican-minded "good" murders of minorities and other targeted groups. The plain effect of such laws, if all state residents were as armed as Abbott's fringe demand they be, would be constant shootouts as open-carry ing citizens challenge and execute other open-carrying citizens, with each citing the other as a threat to their safety.
For Abbott and other conservatives, however, open-carry and "Stand Your Ground" laws apply only to conservative shooters. Nobody else gets the same laws applied. And now we're seeing that if even a Texas jury unanimously agrees a politically minded murderer premeditated the killing of his enemies, Greg Abbott and the party's other ambitious fascists will not tolerate even that single conviction.
Abbott's message is crystal clear. Conservatives should be allowed to murder Black Lives Matter protesters and other conservative "enemies" with legal impunity, and Republicans will step in to ensure that it happens. No longer satisfied with provoking acts of political violence, Republicans clearly intend to empower and reward them.
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