In July 2014, a man named Eric Garner was stopped by police for selling untaxed cigarettes. He was tired of being harassed regularly by police for engaging in a peaceful exchange of goods that harmed no third parties. He made the mistake of pushing them away, which was his right as a human, but never a wise idea. The original officer who stopped Garner, along with another nearby, proceeded to attempt to arrest him. The latter put him in what is described as a chokehold. Chokeholds are legal police tactics under New York State Law, but have been prohibited by the NYPD for over two decades, for obvious reasons. Garner couldnt breathe, and eventually his heart gave out and he died. He was morbidly obese and had a whole host of health issues that almost certainly contributed to his death.
Despite many witnesses, video of the incident, and much public outcry (which may be a bad thing as several cases have shown), the two police officers involved were not charged by a grand jury in Staten Island, the most conservative and pro-police borough in New York City. This led to protests similar to Ferguson, but so far without any rioting (NYPD arent pansies like Ferguson and their stagecraft show of force). Many on the left have made this about race again as leftists are wont to do. The reality is a bit different if one sees things as a libertarian.
For starters, police brutality affects everyone. A black cop in Utah killed an unarmed white suspect and there was no outcry because that doesnt fit the racist leftwing agenda. Any libertarian can dump dozens of examples of police brutality on you if you just ask. I even have a bookmark folder full of them for easy access. I stopped adding to it because there are just too many. It doesnt matter if you are white, black, yellow, brown, Jewish, a dog, or a litter of kittens, the police will shoot you for no good reason if they want to.
More importantly, lets examine what led to this. In the United States, there is a pathological hatred of smokers and cigarettes. Yes, they are harmful and often smelly and annoying. Smokers litter a lot and are inconsiderate, however they still have the same rights as the rest of us. “Progressive” activists, like their 100 year history has shown, have sought to restrict, ban, and tax smoking into oblivion. I remember when restaurants had smoking sections and when my family would seek out smoke-free restaurants for me and my sister. I remember the two of us would hold our breath and run for the bathroom. Since those bans, extensive taxation has also been enacted. In New York City, a pack of cigarettes can cost at least $11 on a street stand to $16 at the always overpriced Hudson News (never shop there for anything, unless its the only choice). Cigarette packs in New York also require a stamp label to show the tax was paid.
On top of all this, former Nazi dictator Michael Bloomberg and current Communist dictator Bill de Blasio have taken an extremely aggressive stance against public smoking and smoking in general, among other nonviolent activities. This stance was impressed upon the NYPD, who gleefully harass and attack anyone like Eric Garner, who are just trying to make their way in the world. If it werent for all these laws regarding the trade of cigarettes, Garner would likely not have been stopped for anything. He was out on bail for a bunch of human rights: “selling untaxed cigarettes, driving without a license, marijuana possession, and false personation“. He did have a rap sheet of violent crime, but seemed to be turning his life around thru entrepreneurship. Maybe its safer to just go on welfare than pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
Leftists, this one is on you.