Austin: Garrett Foster’s Family Honors Him on His Birthday, His Killer Still Walks Free

Photos by Garrett’s father Steve and his wife Paddy

By Mike Talavera

The family of Garrett Foster, a servant of the people and defender of Black lives, commemorated him this past Friday on what would have been his 29th birthday. His mother, Sheila, inspired by the prior activist work of her son, coordinated donations of dozens of blankets for the homeless in the downtown Austin area. Even as she found some relief in holding her son’s fiancée, Whitney, Sheila told the Tribune that she is still furious that there has been no movement in the case against her son’s killer, US Army Sergeant Daniel Perry.

US Army Sergeant Daniel Perry

“The longer that they let this drag out without any kind of pursuance of justice just confirms everything [Garrett] was protesting against,” Sheila said.

It has been nearly half a year since Perry drove into a downtown Austin protest and shot Garrett to death. If not for the bravery of Garrett and that of his comrade, the latter of whom shot back, it is likely more people would have been killed. The police apprehended Perry after the shooting but let him go within hours.

After the publication of the Tribune report exposing Perry as Garrett’s murderer, which listed online posts in which Perry threatened to kill protesters leading up to the shooting, Perry’s lawyers published a letter admitting that he was the one who shot Garrett. Since then, some of Perry’s former classmates have come forward and described his anti-social past.

The last correspondence the lawyers of Garrett’s family have received from Austin Police Department was a notification a few weeks ago that the homicide detectives still had not discussed how to proceed with the case, claiming to be waiting on health records, DNA tests, and other documentation.

There has also been no action from District Attorney Margaret Moore, who had announced (days before Perry murdered Garrett) that she would not present the police murder cases of Mike Ramos and Javier Ambler to grand juries during her term, which ends in January 2021. District Attorney-elect José Garza, who defeated Moore in a primary run-off, has made no comment on punishing Perry or about the protesters still facing charges related to the protests following the May Uprising.

“The people in this state who are in positions to hold the [police] accountable,” Sheila said. “What are they doing? Seriously—you know they know this is happening. I don’t understand.”

The day before Garrett’s birthday, Sheila requested Friday off from work, because she didn’t know how she was going to handle the grief of not having her son on that day. Despite the feelings of sadness she felt hanging over her, Sheila decided that instead of crying in bed (as she thought she was going to do) that she would make the trip to Austin with her father to be with the rest of Garrett’s family, to decorate the memorial at the intersection where Garrett died, and to serve the people as Garrett had. She also helped Whitney get supplies for serving meals under I-35 that evening as she had with Garrett regularly when he was alive.

As the family waits for their son’s case to move forward, Sheila wants supporters to know that Daniel Perry, who admitted to killing her son, has not faced any charges and still walks free. “If people think it’s being taken care of, then they’re not going to put on any pressure,” Sheila said.

Tribune of the People stands in solidarity with the Foster family, and once again raises the demand for people’s justice. The lack of action from the city to punish the guilty is a political statement. For them, Black people and those who stand with them are disposable. The people know better and must fight harder than ever in the memory of Garrett Foster.

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