By Josefina Morales
On July 25, the one-year anniversary of the murder of Garrett Foster, supporters of the movement for Black lives marched in his memory, calling for the conviction of his killer and for the advancement of his fight in service of the people. Foster, 28, was killed by Daniel Perry, a reactionary active-duty US Army sergeant who drove into a crowd of protesters in downtown Austin before shooting Foster at close range.
The demonstrators gathered in Republic Square Park, where supporters of Foster’s widow, Whitney Mitchell, reminded the crowd in a speech why he was marching the night he was murdered. That night, Austin protesters were demonstrating in solidarity with the people of Portland, who had maintained nightly, combative anti-police protests for weeks. These protests, among the most militant in the wake of the May Uprisings, caused extremely low morale among Portland Police Bureau officers while exemplifying the righteous anger of people around the US.
“People were politicized, people were angry, and they brought that anger to Austin,” recalled one organizer from the revolutionary women’s organization Popular Women’s Movement. Activists raised the slogan, “Be like Garrett!” referencing his bravery in opposing the police and taking up a gun in order to protect protesters.
Speakers explained that Foster was carrying a rifle in self defense the week of his murder in response to the trend of reactionaries using cars as weapons and brandishing guns to intimidate and attack protesters around the US during the May Uprisings. In late June at a protest in Austin, Logan Bucknam drove his vehicle at protesters and brandished a gun outside of Austin Police Department (APD) headquarters. Bucknam was promptly guarded and released by APD officers before the police began to attack and arrest protesters. Foster cited this incident as a motivation to carry a weapon.
Those close to Foster’s widow spoke about her courageous stand against APD during the May Uprisings as well as in the year since Foster’s murder, explaining how her drive for justice was what first brought Foster out to the streets. Mitchell and her supporters have become more resolute in the struggle against police, and in their demand that Perry be convicted of murder.
One activist said, “[Perry] did this to weaken our unity, our solidarity with each other, but his vile, cowardly act did the exact opposite—it has united us even more!”
A statement from Mitchell and her supporters was read aloud: “Garrett believed in real equality, and he was disgusted by how horribly this system fell short. … He was in this fight because he recognized the oppressive actions of the police and he despised the system that protected them from justice. … Garrett was resolute in opposing all the evils that they perpetrate.”
“His generosity and bravery cannot be replaced, but still we have to try. Our request to you all is to carry on his love for those in need, and his hatred for those that keep them there,” concluded the statement.
The assembly marched east toward Congress Ave. and 4th St., the corner where Foster was murdered by Perry, where the memorial for Foster was rebuilt as part of the demonstration. Despite being destroyed numerous times before, including by the police, Foster’s memorial has repeatedly been reconstructed by his family and his supporters.
The event ended in front of the US federal courthouse nearby. One speaker who witnessed Foster’s death stirred the crowd by saying, “Justice is burying this system in the ground, that allows atrocities to happen to beautiful people like Whitney and Garrett. We deserve a society where we have respect and dignity, where the people we love aren’t getting gunned down like dogs because they are brave enough to stand up and fight!”
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