On the evening of July 25, 2020, just blocks away from the Texas state capitol in Austin, US Army sergeant Daniel Perry encountered a now-familiar sight in major American cities: a large armed mob of Black Lives Matter protestors had assembled, blocking the road. Perry was moonlighting as an Uber driver and, in a turn-only lane, turned onto the road occupied by the mob, slowing down to avoid hitting anyone and eventually coming to a stop. His car was quickly surrounded.
In a scene Americans had watched many times in the months of widespread leftist rioting and violence that followed the death of George Floyd, protestors mobbed Perry’s car, preventing him from escaping. They began striking the car as well. A masked BLM protestor, Garrett Foster, approached the car’s driver-side door with his rifle at low ready. Upon seeing this, Perry did something that did not happen often during the months of terror now known as the George Floyd protests: he defended himself, firing 5 times at Foster and killing him instantly.
Initially, liberal sources tried to depict the incident as an unprovoked attack on peaceful protestors. But evidence quickly emerged to show that Perry's actions were in self-defense. Video of the incident showed that the “peaceful protestors” were in fact behaving aggressively and that, at the time he was shot, Foster had his rifle just inches away from Perry. Foster could have aimed and fired in less than a second. Furthermore, footage was discovered of Foster giving an interview at another armed march where he said “I think all the people that hate us and want to say shit to us are too big of pussies to stop and actually do anything about it,” indicating that he carried the rifle with the clear intent to intimidate.
The lead investigator assigned to the case, veteran Austin Police Detective David Fugitt, found this self-defense narrative compelling, and declined to arrest Perry. Despite this, Austin’s controversial district attorney pursued charges anyway.
The district attorney, José Garza, is a member of the far-left advocacy group the Democratic Socialists of America. He was elected with help from hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by billionaire activist George Soros as part of a larger effort to radically-restructure America’s justice system. Garza is a proponent of “criminal justice reform” and has overseen a dramatic rise in crime and disorder in the city of Austin.
Despite his reputation for leniency towards street criminals, Garza called a grand jury and presented evidence, including evidence gathered by Detective Fugitt, to the jurors to allow them to decide if murder charges against Perry would be appropriate. Based on the evidence Garza presented, the grand jury indicted Perry for murder in the first degree.
In a virtually unprecedented scandal, shortly after the indictment Detective Fugitt came forward and said that what was presented to the grand jury was extremely misleading. Fugitt said Garza instructed him to remove an enormous amount of evidence that suggested Daniel Perry acted in self-defense when he shot Garrett Foster.
Furthermore, Fugitt was instructed by Garza to remove evidence that made it clear that the statements of certain witnesses who claimed Perry was not acting in self-defense on that night were inconsistent or dishonest. Fugitt accused Garza of so fundamentally manipulating his testimony that it constituted a crime in and of itself. One thing was certain: This was not a very strong case. This was not a case that any reasonable prosecutor would bring.
After three years of legal maneuvering, the case finally went to trial in 2023. Although a clear picture existed of Garrett Foster pointing his rifle towards the car, leftist witnesses testified that he never threatened Perry. Although video shows the car turning at a reasonable speed and then coming to a halt before hitting anyone, leftist witnesses testified that Perry accelerated into the crowd.
At trial, many of the left-wing witnesses who testified for the prosecution stated that Foster 'gestured' toward Perry with his rifle, though claimed it was merely in effort to force Perry to lower his window or keep moving along. From the perspective of Perry, this gesturing could indeed be seen as an imminent threat consisted with the use of force in defense of self, yet the Austin jurors dismissed this exculpatory evidence, even though it was presented by witnesses for the prosecution. Perry was convicted.
Although Garrett Foster was part of a large mob attacking Daniel Perry’s car and blocking him from escaping, leftist witnesses claimed Perry was the aggressor. Prosecutors brought up joke texts sent by Perry weeks and months beforehand, one where he said he might “shoot looters” in Dallas and another where he said he might have to “kill a few people” on his way to work because of nearby rioting. They claimed that Perry had, in fact, planned to be attacked by a mob of leftists in Austin in order to create a pretext to shoot one of them. Detective Fugitt testified on behalf of the defense. Although Fugitt challenged many of lies told by previous prosecution witnesses, after a week of deliberation the trial jury unanimously voted to convict Perry of first degree murder.
The verdict is a bad joke. Texas has some of the clearest self-defense protections in the entire country. There is simply no way any person acting in good faith could believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting occurred as prosecutors claimed it did. And yet, out of 12 random jurors selected in Austin, not a single one of them was willing to object to this false conviction. Bravely, Texas Governor Greg Abbott quickly stated that he planned to pardon Perry if the opportunity became available. This pardon might not even be necessary, as it was later revealed that serious improper behavior occurred during the jury deliberations. There is a very strong legal case to set aside the verdict entirely and grant a new trial.
It seems, for now at least, that Daniel Perry will likely not be jailed for self-defense. Although this is a good outcome for him, it should bring everyone else no comfort. In fact, the entire incident reveals the immense gravity of the threat that normal Americans face today.
Our system is no longer functional. There should never have been a political mob running an armed roadblock in a major American city.
Daniel Perry should have never had to defend himself from this mob. This unambiguous self-defense case should never have gone to a grand jury. The grand jury indictment should not have survived the years it took for the case to go to trial. The trial should have never been allowed to proceed. And, finally, the jury should have never voted to convict.
The most remarkable part of Governor Abbott’s pardon message was how it began. The Governor stated: “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.” Although many conservative politicians correctly blame activist liberal officials for the recent decline in public safety and the integrity of our institutions, very few are willing to address the role that complacent everyday people play in this arrangement.
It is important for leaders to state loud and clear that when you indulge in this kind of legal farce, where you accept the obvious lies of activists and ignore exculpatory photographs and the statements of police, you are not just participating in the normal duties of a jury. You’re helping to put an innocent man in jail for purely political reasons.
The everyday person who is willing to not just accept outlandish and outrageous behavior from activist officials, but to help it along, is one of the most under-acknowledged phenomena in America. It is on full display in the Daniel Perry case. If you were to search mainstream articles and commentary on the case now, you will find a wealth of people claiming that pardoning a man for clear self-defense encourages political violence. These same people offer no condemnation or scorn towards the leftists who were operating an armed roadblock in a major American city.
Literally millions of Americans still believe that Kyle Rittenhouse is a terrorist who belongs in jail, even though video of him being chased and attacked by an armed liberal mob before he fired in self-defense has been publicly available for years. These are not people you can persuade with evidence or appeals to decency and fairness. This is a great mass of people who you need to ensure have no power over you or your loved ones.
You often see a sort of fake pessimism in conservative circles. Conservatives will acknowledge that the situation is bad and getting worse. They will readily admit that the justice system is increasingly politicized and that activist prosecutors are openly biased and corrupt. They will enthusiastically agree that criminals go unpunished and are supported by mainstream political organizations, businesses, and even government officials. And yet, nothing will happen. Instead, people will dream about a future where these problems magically go away, and wait for that fantasy to become reality. The Daniel Perry case illustrates why it is so important to take the rhetoric seriously. Don’t make those jokes.
Don’t put yourself in situations where you might be marched in front of a kangaroo court. But, even more important, don’t pretend like there is a good-faith exercise of the normal process occurring that you simply have to tolerate.
It is critical for conservatives, especially in states where Republicans have control of the governorship, attorney general’s office, and state legislature, to go on offense against this problem. It is not enough to simply mitigate the issues these bad actors create. Rather, state governments must ensure that these problems stop occurring in the future. All legal means should be pursued to disempower these radical activists and to restructure, or dissolve entirely, municipalities that elect dysfunctional and corrupt officials. If the laws to do this don’t exist yet, it’s important to pass them now. These are not steps that can be taken when there are thousands of mobilized “activists” and “protestors” in the streets committing organized violence with support from radical officials.
An active effort must be made to ensure that any state or local government employees sympathetic to this behavior be identified and removed from their positions permanently. The controversial Twitter account LibsOfTikTok, which simply reposts videos made and posted by liberals themselves, has shown that the issue is no longer with a small core of professional activists, but instead with a large body of radicalized individuals in low-level positions of public trust. It would be better to temporarily close any affected services rather than allow them to continue with employees who will inevitably abuse their roles.
Finally, it’s important to harden state justice systems to account for the presence of out-of-control liberal prosecutors and police leadership. There is a tendency among conservatives to think “Why not let liberals live with the consequences of their votes?” This is a reasonable thought, but one that is ultimately short-sighted. Allowing bad actors to occupy and terrorize major cities has downstream effects all over a state. As Texas is experiencing now with the increasingly violent and heavily armed response from leftist militant groups to protests against drag queen events targeted at children: activists travel far. Allowing them to concentrate in certain areas with support from local authorities offers them a base from which to coordinate, train, and work themselves into greater radicalism.
Seeing chaos and urban decay go unpunished not only emboldens liberal activists, it also encourages conservatives to adopt a fatalistic and resigned attitude towards the seemingly-relentless advance of evil people. Eventually, people begin to believe that losing is inevitable. As Florida has shown in recent years, strength generates strength. Seeing leaders take a firm stand against the forces of decay encourages conservatives to take a more active role in politics.
Although Florida Governor Ron DeSantis barely won his first gubernatorial election in 2018, four years of aggressive policies from his administration caused him to win reelection in 2022 by a commanding margin. Florida was once a swing state but after just a few years of tough policy it is a conservative stronghold. The opposite was true for Colorado, where state Republicans once contested every election but now lose by greater and greater margins each year as Colorado Democrats enact some of the most radical policies in the country.
It has never been more important for conservative state governments to use powers they already have to fight back against this full-fledged assault on normal life. Every state must pass clear laws banning the sort of armed roadblock that Daniel Perry encountered, laws that allow police to arrest every single person who participates in these takeovers, armed or unarmed, and hit them with real jail time. This is not incompatible with the 1st or 2nd Amendments.
Previous generations would not have tolerated this terroristic behavior. Normal people should not have to depend on the good will of anonymous masked political mobs in order to drive down the street. State legislatures should also not count on compromised prosecutors to enforce the law. Instead, they should create special courts and prosecutors that can step in to ensure fair trials in cases that occur in areas where the rule of law has broken down due to activist officials. The Daniel Perry case makes it very clear just how bad these problems have become. They are not going away on their own. If this is allowed to continue, every normal process will be manipulated and abused by millions of radicalized liberals until they have enough strength to do away with these processes entirely.
Alejandro Rodriguez is a retired teacher and local journalist. He enjoys detective novels and horseback riding with his family.