Monday, December 8, 2014

Reduce government, reduce police brutality

Reduce government, reduce police brutality | Anthony Furey | Opinion | Winnipeg Sun:

December 5, 2014 - "The first few times I watched the Eric Garner video it was the end part that I focused on. How can one not? That’s the point where Garner is placed in the chokehold by the police officer. He later died from the complications of that hold.... But after a few views I started to really hear what was happening at the beginning of the video, when a couple officers surround Garner.

"He appears genuinely frustrated. At his wits’ end. He says he wasn’t doing anything. He certainly doesn’t look like he was doing anything.

"'Every time you see me you want to mess with me,' he cries out.

"It’s important to remember what they’re bickering about: Whether or not Garner was peddling contraband cigarettes on the sidewalk. Really?! And this seemingly irrelevant disagreement ends in a man’s death?

"This opening scene reminds me of the story of Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old Tunisian fruit vendor who sparked the Arab Spring.

"He’d been harassed for years by local officials over petty regulatory issues that seemed to change daily.... One day the harassment got too much and he set fire to himself in protest....

"In Garner’s case, he was killed because the government was protecting both the cigarette brands it favours and the massive taxes it collects from smokes....

"Whatever your thoughts about how police brutality and racism play into the story, this altercation would have never happened in the first place were it not for the cigarette laws....

"So here’s where we’re at: The government has made a product unaffordable for low-income people. Those people in turn buy from the black market. This creates a criminal underworld and also reduces government tax revenues. The government then uses tax dollars to employ police resources to crack down on this. This is a perverse circle.

"The problem with the Garner case at every single step is a lack of proportionality. Too many stupid laws. Too many cops on the scene. Too many instances of harassing low-income people who are just doing what they need to do to make it through the day."

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