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Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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May 29, 2024

Garrett Foster was Protesting Racial Injustice when He was Shot and Killed by Daniel Perry

Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 14 attorneys general, today urged the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to open a civil rights investigation into the July 2020 murder of Garrett Foster, who was shot and killed by Daniel Perry in Austin, Texas when protesting racial injustice.

A jury found Perry guilty of murder in April 2023, but earlier this month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pardoned Perry, citing Texas’ so-called “Stand Your Ground” law, which provides an incredibly broad justification for self-defense for criminal conduct. In a letter to DOJ, Attorney General Raoul and the coalition call on the DOJ to open an investigation into Perry’s killing of Foster, specifically into whether Perry violated federal criminal civil rights laws when he murdered Foster.

“The evidence shows that Daniel Perry intended to harm peaceful protesters, and a jury of his peers agreed when they convicted him of murdering Garrett Foster,” said Raoul. “This pardon damages public safety. It not only fails to hold Perry accountable for taking Garrett Foster from his loved ones, it also sends an affirmative message to others who would seek to violently disrupt Americans from exercising their constitutional rights. I join my fellow attorneys general in calling for the DOJ to investigate this shocking instance of violence motivated by hate.”

In 2020, Foster was participating in a protest against racial injustice in Austin when Perry drove his car into a crowd of protesters. Foster approached Perry’s car in an attempt to protect his fellow protesters. Perry opened fire, killing Foster, who was legally carrying a firearm.. During his trial, Perry claimed self-defense, but his activity before the shooting indicates an intent to violently disrupt peaceful protesters. A jury found him guilty of murder.

Perry’s online search history included evidence that he knew what he was planning to do was wrong, and that he intended to cover up his crime. For example, he searched whether the federal government had ballistics information for every firearm lawfully sold. He sent multiple texts before he left for the protests, telling friends that he was considering traveling to another city to “shoot looters,” and “might have to kill a few people on [his] way to work.” He Googled the locations of local protests and targeted those areas, and also sent and shared racist and Islamophobic messages and memes advocating vigilante murder.

 Less than 24 hours after Perry was convicted in 2023, Gov. Abbott announced his intent to pardon him. In the year that followed, multiple other elected officials and political leaders who opposed racial justice protests joined the call for Perry to be pardoned. Raoul and the coalition are concerned that in pardoning Perry, Abbott is signaling that “stand your ground” laws will protect vigilantes who seek out racial justice protests to shoot and kill protesters. This is particularly troubling given the growing evidence that these laws are often associated with increased homicide rates.

Though Perry has been pardoned in Texas, the law does not shield him from federal prosecution for killing Foster to prevent him from exercising his constitutional right to peacefully protest. The coalition argues that DOJ has historically used federal civil rights laws to prosecute acts of hate, especially when states refuse or fail to hold people accountable for violating their fellow Americans’ civil rights.

Joining Attorney General Raoul in sending this letter to DOJ are the attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Vermont.