Texas governor Greg Abbott attended George Floyd’s memorial service last year in Houston. He also stated that he was prepared to work with his family to pass the “George Floyd Act” through the Texas legislature. That has not happened at all. Instead, Abbott has passed measures to hurt cities that reduce police budgets and enact harsher penalties for protesters. Not precisely the reforms people were looking for in response to George Floyd’s murder.
Now Gov. Abbott has a decision to make. Typically, he grants pardons to ordinary citizens who committed minor offenses years ago during Christmas time. According to the Associated Press, there’s one name he could do this for–the late George Floyd. It would be only the second posthumous pardon in Texas history.
In October, Texas’ parole board unanimously recommended that George Floyd be pardoned. Allison Mathis, the public defender who submitted the pardon request, had this to say:
“It doesn’t matter who you think George Floyd was, or what you think he stood for or didn’t stand for,” said Allison Mathis, a public defender in Houston who submitted Floyd’s pardon application. “What matters is he didn’t do this. It’s important for the governor to correct the record to show he didn’t do this.”
Floyd was arrested in February of 2004 in Houston for selling $10 worth of crack in a police sting. He pleaded guilty to a drug charge and served ten months in prison. According to Fox 29, there were circumstances around his case and others like it.
Floyd’s case happened to be among dozens that prosecutors revisited in the fallout over a deadly drug raid in 2019 that resulted in murder charges against an officer, Gerald Goines, who is no longer with the Houston force. Prosecutors say Goines lied to obtain a search warrant in the 2019 raid that left a husband and wife dead, and the office of Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has since dismissed more than 160 drug convictions tied to Goines.
Gov. Abbott is coming up on an election year, and I would hope he wouldn’t use this pardon as a way to drum up some political goodwill. Given the rash of laws passed through Texas lately, some would argue they need some win. But not at the expense of George Floyd’s memory. If you are not going to make any movement on the George Floyd Act, then do this now, not during debate season.