Big Government Means Big Police

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.

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7 Responses to Big Government Means Big Police

  1. Midge says:

    I replied to you on the Rand Paul article. I don’t disagree with your premise about big government but the logic of the Garner situation is that something else entirely was going on and the police were not policing cigarette taxes. Al Capone got put away for tax evasion but thats what they could get him on. Similarly, the cops could take Garner (and a crew of petty thieves) off the street for a few hours by arresting him for selling loose cigarettes.

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    • Tricia says:

      Well that’s a good point and thanks for sharing it here. There are for sure ways by which police get criminals via their lesser crimes than the larger they commit. I don’t disagree with that at all as long as it’s all legal and proper. I just don’t see that with the case with Eric Garner but who knows what else may come out. I’m very interested in seeing the evidence the grand jury saw and hope it gets released.

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  2. Tricia says:

    This is an excellent post from a fellow blogger discussing the problems with equating select cases of police brutality with American law enforcement being taken over by the klan. That’s just not reality and it insults the hardships and intense racism blacks endured during the civil rights era. I thought it was a good compliment to my post…read more here…
    https://friedmansbff.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/have-we-forgotten/

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  3. Dennis Moore says:

    Why are we feeling so sorry for individuals that have had run ins with the police and ignore the fact that they are habitual criminals and have had many run ins with law enforcement and have been given breaks time after time? Why do we only see pictures of the offenders when they were very young i.e. Trevon Martin etc.? Let us see the thug as they were on the day the crime was committed. Let us see the tats and thuggish looks they now display. Let us see the ugly side of this “innocent” young person instead of the school picture.

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    • Tricia says:

      Thanks for commenting Dennis and I agree with you to a point, as I think the broken windows theory of policing works well if the intent is kept to the overall goal of getting criminals off the street and reducing crime. This case of of illegal cigarette sales doesn’t meet that intent in my opinion, it’s more about feeding the state’s tax coffers and I don’t think Eric Garner, guilty or not, deserved the cop pile on shown in the video. Agreed too on showing pics of people as they are today!

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  4. mami panzona says:

    I’m more of the closet activist-type. I’m not black but I think black lives matter along with thousands of other Americans and millions of other people across the globe. There is an obvious, insidious protocol, in Eric Garner’s case and many other black male “criminals”, to wipe them off the face of the earth. Over here in Canada there was a couple who abducted, tortured, raped and murdered 2 young girls. No one suspected them because they were a good-looking white couple. And guess what? They were able to study and get their degrees and guess who paid for their tuition…Canadian taxpayers. They get to live, comfortably in prison and Eric Garner’s kids get to grow up without a father.

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    • Tricia says:

      Hi Mami, thanks for the comment. I couldn’t agree more that black lives matter as do all people of all races. That couple in Canada sounds heinous, evil I would say and I’m glad they were caught and locked up, although I’m pro death penalty and would have no qualms with them meeting their maker that way. Like I said in my post, Eric Garner didn’t deserve to die but I don’t think his case had anything to do with racism. Too much govt power focused on small beer crimes often ends up with tragic results as it did here.

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