When US Army Sergeant Daniel Perry shot and killed anti-racist activist Garrett Foster last weekend, his goal was to attack the movement for Black Lives. The Austin community has instead come together this week in honor of Garrett’s sacrifice and stood alongside his fiancé Whitney, who has become a symbol of resilience in the wake of her fiancé’s death.
The two had already been important figures in the local protest movement and had consistently taken to the streets to demand better lives for Black people. Even after Garrett’s passing, the strength of their bond and their “frontline every time” politics extended to those around them, resulting in stronger unity among revolutionaries, activists, and the everyday working people who have taken to the streets against the police.
That unity was clear the night after Garrett’s murder, when a silent vigil at 4th and Congress boiled over into a march. Eric Brown, a fascist-friendly police collaborator, was for the first time kicked out of a protest as the crowd chanted “Act like a cop! Get treated like a cop!”
In retaliation, Brown singled out a woman with the Mike Ramos Brigade who had led the confrontation against him and said, “You’re Moroccan, you got shit to deal with in your own country.” Brown has earned a reputation for subverting political debate by bringing up his identity as a Black man, but in this instance he showed that he was willing to use racism as a last ditch attempt to save face.
Many speeches were given throughout the night, including by a Tribune Support Committee member. “The minute the pigs got on the [crime] scene,” the member said, “they fucking spun that story, and then the fucking bourgeois media started spinning that story, and we have a fucking responsibility to Whitney, to Garrett – we got to spread the fucking truth!”
Another speaker drew the connection between how Garrett’s actions, his commitment to the movement, spoke volumes of who he was as a person, and how Daniel Perry’s reactionary actions likewise defined him. “When [Perry] sped and made this right [turn], and drove through this, he knew what he was doing,” the speaker said. “He was on a mission.”
This past Wednesday, the community once again congregated to take up the work of Garrett and Whitney, this time by supporting their group Austin Direct Action to carry out their work of handing out donations and serving food to the homeless under Interstate 35. United Neighborhood Defense Movement had been asked to coordinate while Whitney and others attended Garrett’s funeral. Grills served hot food, hundreds of bottles of water and other beverages were distributed, and a large amount of clothing was also given out.
“Every week Garret, Whitney, and their close friend were out here serving the people and we are so grateful to be able to help them as they mourn,” UNDM said in a statement. “Their strength and dedication to the people inspire us. Garrett died in service of the people and those close to him continue this fight.”