Who is Garrett Foster, the armed man killed while protesting and pushing his fiancee's wheelchair in Texas?
Police in Austin, Texas, have been investigating the death of 28-year-old Garrett Foster, a young man who was fatally shot while protesting peacefully at a protest in Austin, Texas. They said the suspect was cooperating with them and they are now treating Foster's death as a homicide. Foster had been actively participating in the George Floyd Protests since it had started over 50 days ago. On June 25, he was wearing a black bandana and a baseball cap as he pushed his fiancée's wheelchair at the protests.
According to a New York Times report, he was armed with an AK-47 rifle at the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. It isn't completely uncommon that gun-rights supporters on both the left and the right carry weapons when protesting in Texas because the state's liberal gun laws allow it.
While protesting against police brutality, a car barreled into the crowd and someone inside opened fire on the protesters. Foster was shot by the motorist when he approached the vehicle intending to confront the driver. He was shot three times while trying to protect his disabled fiancée and immediately taken to the hospital where shortly afterward, he was pronounced dead. Foster had been fighting against injustice, had served in the military and was fiercely protective of his fiancée, who is a quadruple amputee and was thus wheelchair-bound. The two had met and fallen in love at age 17 and had been inseparable ever since. At the time that he was shot, his fiancée, Whitney Mitchell was thrown off the wheelchair.
Sheila Foster told ABC's Good Morning on July 26 that her son and his fiancée had been active demonstrators in the George Floyd protests since the very beginning. "He was doing it because he felt really strongly about justice and he was very heavily against police brutality, and he wanted to support his fiancée," she said. "His fiancée is African-American." Before he was shot, Foster was seen speaking to independent journalist Hiram Gilberto Garcia on his live Periscope, about carrying his rifle at the protest. "They don't let us march in the streets anymore, so I got to practice some of our rights," he said. "(But) if I use it against the cops, I'm dead."
On July 26, marches were held across a number of cities in solidarity with activists in Portland. The city in Oregon has seen 58 consecutive days of protests, which have been aggravated by the deployment of federal agents by the Department of Homeland Security along with the Customs and Border Protection and US Marshals Services. In the past week, media reports said that the feds were detaining protestors from the streets in unmarked vehicles and attempting to suppress protests by the frequent use of tear gas and impact munitions on demonstrators.
Tributes began pouring in for Foster over social media after the video of the shooting surfaced online. An online fund was started to cover his funeral, burial and other expenses on GoFundMe, which has now raised over $100,000. "An American soldier and hero was killed by a MAGA Trump supporter at a BLM rally in Austin last night. RIP Garrett Foster," a user tweeted. "Garrett Foster did not deserve to die," said another user. "Garrett Foster gave his life marching with his fiancée, Whitney Mitchell, for #BlackLivesMatter. She is a quad-amputee and he was her caretaker. Let’s make sure we take care of Whitney now that Garrett is fallen. We take care of our own," another user wrote.
"Garrett Foster was the model ally/ co-conspirator. Tragic loss not only for his family and friends, but for the community as a whole. He will be missed but not forgotten. Rest in power!" another user commented. "Say his name. Anti-racism warrior Garrett Foster was murdered last night at the protests in Austin, in front of his fiance, whose wheelchair he was pushing. Burn in hell @realDonaldTrump," a user concurred. "He was out in the streets every day. Rest in power Garrett Foster. We will never forget you," another user said in a tweet. "Tonight, we lost Garrett Foster in Austin. A fellow Texan. A white man who was standing up for his black wife, a paraplegic black woman. There is only one response to this: Keep showing up and being armed against fascists. Never backing down. Real talk, this s**t got me crying", said another.
However, a raging conversation that has been sweeping the platform is Foster carrying an AK-47 to the protests and rumors of him firing at the motorists, which have been shot down by the Austin police. President Trump also retweeted a debunked article written by Ian Cheong that disparaged Foster and blamed him for his own death. Twitter was abuzz with misinformation that Foster first shot five times at the motorist, missed, and got shot three times instead. Austin police have confirmed that this isn't the case, and the five shots had been fired by someone else in the crowd.