Rick Jensen, 12/12/2014 [Archive]

Cigarette Taxes Killed Eric Garner

By Rick Jensen

Would police have harassed Eric Garner or his wife if the government had no financial interest in the selling of taxed cigarettes?

Eric Garner posed no direct threat to police, and if Staten Island police were engaged in actual community policing instead of Officer Pantaleo's style of aggression-policing, Garner might be alive today.

Here are some painful facts about Eric Garner's death. Some are facts that liberals viscerally reject and others are those denied by some conservatives.

Eric Garner's death was brought on by Officer Pantaleo choking him and the subsequent crush of half a dozen police officers holding his head and body to the ground. Watch the video. Read the coroner's report.

Eric Garner could just as well have had a heart attack and died had police never touched his neck.

Eric Garner would likely be alive today if he were healthy.

The coroner confirmed the death is a "homicide.""Homicide" is not murder. "Homicide" simply means a person died at the hands of another. Not all homicides are crimes. Personally, I'm surprised the grand jury did not find the case worthy of at least negligent homicide.

There was a report of a fight, but when police approached Garner in front of the beauty supply store on Bay Street, the cell phone video shows they were more interested in whether he had been selling "loosies," single cigarettes from untaxed packages.

That brings us to the core issue. Garner's widow tells us that the killing of her husband had nothing to do with race. She and Eric were often harassed by police, calling them "Cigarette Man" and "Cigarette Man Wife."

Why would the police be so obsessed?Is it simply because they are immersed in quality-of-life policing?Unlikely. Is it because Mr. Garner had accumulated a resume of more than 30 arrests dating back to 1980 on charges such as assault, resisting arrest, grand larceny and multiple charges for illegally selling cigarettes? More likely.

But why such anger directed toward Garner? Why did so many police officers directly supervised by a black female police sergeant at the scene need to take him down on the street unprovoked?

The police are told what to enforce and this was enforcement of New York taxes. Senator Rand Paul was the first conservative to bring this up nationally.

Consider this: New York City cigarettes are taxed at nearly six dollars per pack New York brings in over one and a half billion dollars in cigarette tax revenue each year.

DailyFinance.com reported earlier this year that nearly 61 percent of New York smokers light up butts illegally smuggled into the state. That's another billion dollars Democratic Mayor Bill DiBlasio can spend on whatever social needs he sees fit, like another marketing campaign against charter schools.

Eric Garner and low level criminals like him are interrupting the flow of tax revenue to the liberal Democrats who use the police to quell the broken flow of tax revenue.

In order for big government to "solve all of our problems," the government needs unlimited resources: more taxes. In order for big government to collect all of these taxes, it needs enforcement: police. This is something liberal elites either deny or fear you realizing.

Thus Eric Garner and his wife became enemies of the state, invoking the wrath of police who were instructed by their superiors to get such "dangerous" men and women off the street.

Liberals who claimed this is all about quality-of-life policing are wrong. Arresting turnstile jumpers, for example, has resulted in recovering dozens of illegal guns over the past couple of years.

Quality of life policing has shown impressive results. Abusive enforcement of these laws results in riots.

Be aware that expanding government and its costs expands the number of incidents in which the" Sheriff of Nottingham's" enforcers might justifiably kill citizens during the course of preventing the loss of tax collections ... including some rogue officers doing so unjustifiably.

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©Copyright 2014 Rick Jensen, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Rick Jensen is Delaware's award-winning conservative talk show host on 1150AM WDEL and 93.7FM HD3, Streaming live on WDEL.com from 1pm — 4pm EST. Contact Rick at rick@wdel.com, or follow him on Twitter @Jensen1150WDEL.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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