Eric Garner should not have died that day in July. He was originally approached by officers for suspicion of selling “loosies”, which are single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. New York State deems this a high crime because no tax revenue is generated from that type of black market sale and thus the police are directed to aggressively crack down on “rogue cigarette vendors” like Mr. Garner.
What follows is not my opinion on the lack of indictment. My gut says there should have been one and the video is very hard to watch but it’s impossible to make an educated judgment until the evidence the grand jury took two months analyzing is released. What troubles me now is the growing police state we seem to be living under, where enforcement for breaking petty laws warrants a felony response from law enforcement.
The fact that the phrase “rogue cigarette vendor” is even part of our vocabulary is a strong sign that things are very wrong in this country. Think about it, in New York, on Staten Island no less where I’m sure murders, rapes, robberies and other serious crimes occur, a team of officers, not one, two or even three, but a large TEAM was tasked with going after Garner. Yes, he had been arrested something like 30 times before for related crimes but what does it mean that so many resources were wasted shuffling this man in and out of the justice system in the name of shutting down illegal cigarette sales?
To me it screams loud and clear that the government, at all levels, has gotten too big and in control of too many things. The more power accumulated to those that rule over us, the tighter the squeeze on our individual liberty becomes and the more you find yourself struggling to avoid breaking some rule you didn’t even know existed until a large fine puts you out of business or even worse, the police start banging down your door.
Look, I’m pro cop and I’m not trying to paint them all as bad. I believe most are good and want to serve justice, that’s why they wear the uniform. It’s the system that I fear is getting out of control. Precedent gets set from high on above that the interests of the state override the public and the machine gravitates towards that and in turn this spreads to lower levels of government. A shrinkage of that power would accomplish the same thing in reverse. Reduce the size and scope of government at the top and all levels below would be similarly affected. Small government means small police and less tragic deaths like Eric Garner’s.
By the way the title of today’s post comes from radio host Mike Slater when he uttered it during his show today talking about the Eric Garner mess. ”For those unfamiliar with Mike, he hosts an excellent program on AM 760 KFMB weekday mornings here in San Diego, You can also catch his show and podcasts here.
Are you concerned with a growing police state? Yes or no, respectful comments are always welcome.