Tag: Eric Garner

Eric Garner and the Dog Who Didn’t Bark


shutterstock_121088260Amid the contention over the Eric Garner case — whether the force used against him was justified, how much his criminal and medical histories should bear on the events, etc. — two points have emerged with what should be crystal clarity: that the cigarette taxes that make selling “loosies” so profitable are absurd, and that the crime Garner was being arrested for at the time of his death is almost wholly a creation of these taxes.

To give a sense of just how crazy cigarette taxes are in New York City, consider that each pack of 20 is subject to $4.35 in state taxes, plus an additional $1.50 in city taxes: in all, a little over $0.29 per cigarette. Given that cigarettes are legally available within a day’s drive for less than the cost of the taxes, it’s little wonder that an estimated 57% of the cigarettes sold in the state are smuggled in (the highest rate in the nation; Lord knows how much higher the figure is for NYC itself). It’s even less of a surprise that street vendors like Garner and this fellow can make a living selling individual cigarettes for $0.70 each or $1 for two.

Now, given this situation — and the supposed concern for people victimized by overzealous law enforcement — you would think that at least someone in the Empire State or Gotham would call for a reexamination of the tax policies that directly led to Garner’s arrest and, indirectly, to his death.

Calling John Yoo . . .


And anyone else who thinks Eric Garner was choked to death by the police.  I have a new piece up at PJ Media in which I again address Mr. Garner’s fatal enounter with the NYPD. In it, I take on the uninformed commentary I’ve heard on the matter, including some from Ricochet’s own John Yoo.  Mr. Yoo is in good company with Charles Krauthammer and George Will, but they’re all wrong. A sample from the piece:

As I’ve followed the aftermath of Mr. Garner’s death, I’ve been struck by the ignorance displayed by so many ordinarily sensible people offering commentary on the matter.  I use the term “ignorance” not as an insult but rather in the benign sense that they are simply uninformed on the facts of the case.  Charles Krauthammer, for example, called the Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the NYPD officer implicated in Garner’s death as “totally inexplicable.” George Will took things a qualified adjective further when he labeled the decision as “inexplicable and probably inexcusable.”  And Berkeley law professor and former U.S. deputy attorney general John Yoo, discussing the incident on a recent Ricochet podcast (relevant portion at about 57:00), revealed himself as no more informed on the issue than the two columnists.  “Looking at the video of what happened,” said Mr. Yoo, “I don’t see any reason why force was required there.  With the guy selling loose cigarettes, I don’t see the need to use deadly force to restrain him.”

Dear White People: Stop Gentrifying Black-led Protests


In an early episode of South Park, dimwitted Mr. Garrison asked Chef, an African-American, how he dealt with whites constantly co-opting black culture. Chef said, “we black people just always tried to stay out in front of them.”

Like with our slang. Black people always used to say, “I’m in the house” instead of “I’m here.” But then white people all started to say “in the house” so we switched it to “in the hizzouse.” “Hizzouse” became “hizzizzouse,” and then white folk started saying that, and we had to change it to “hizzie,” then “in the hizzle” which we had to change to “hizzle fo shizzle,” and now, because white people say “hizzle fo shizzle,” we have to say “flippity floppity floop.”

Thoughts on the Killing of Eric Garner


About five years ago I worked in a group home with ten developmentally disabled adults. That kind of human services field requires some training, because without meaning to, people, human beings, who often can’t care for themselves, can be accidentally killed by the staff.

The folks I worked with all had, and this is the technical term, profound mental retardation. It took different forms in different people, and some of the people I worked with had behaviors.  So each resident had an individualized behavioral support plan. Something along the lines of “If they do this behavior X, you should do Y.” And the responses to a behavior always started with the least invasive and worked towards the most invasive.

I Rise in Defense of the NYPD


5883814212_149137215f_zMany on the right — including some of my colleagues on Ricochet — have taken up the theme that Eric Garner died because he committed “a tax crime.”

I’m not sure whether to call this line tendentious obfuscation or opportunistic grandstanding. But it’s got to be one of those things. Maybe both.

Saying Garner died because of a tax crime is a bit like saying John Lennon was killed because he decided to pick up a guitar: technically correct, but devoid of context.

Last Night In Boston


Coming home from work last night, I ran into the Boston protest over the decision not to indite any of the officers involved in Eric Garner’s arrest and death.

Stipulating that I’m as bad as anyone in estimating the size of crowds, there were certainly hundreds of people there (The Globe reports “thousands” at an earlier event, of which this one spun-out from). It was pretty chilly too: right around freezing. So far as I could see, the crowd was overwhelmingly college-aged, and disproportionally — though not majority — black.

Judge Naplitano Overruled


4378235812_7c556c5bbd_zWhile driving home from work Wednesday evening, I listened to Hugh Hewitt interviewing Andrew Napolitano, the former judge who now serves as a legal analyst for the Fox News Channel. Among the topics discussed was the day’s news that a Staten Island grand jury had declined to indict an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner.

Recall that Garner died July 17 after struggling with several NYPD officers who were trying to arrest him for selling “looses,” or individual, untaxed cigarettes. The incident was recorded on video by a witness. One of the officers, Daniel Pantaleo, can be seen in the video briefly wrapping his arm around Garner’s neck as Garner is wrestled to the ground. But for the unfortunate outcome, it appeared to me to be an unremarkable application of force against a resisting individual, one whose large size made it especially difficult to get him into handcuffs. (I wrote about the incident in an August column for PJ Media.)

Judge Napolitano expressed surprise and disappointment that the grand jury did not indict Officer Pantaleo. “I think it is clearly a case for criminally negligent homicide,” he said. “I think that the use of deadly force – this is not Ferguson, Missouri. This is not somebody wrestling for your gun. This is not where you shoot or be shot at. This is choking to death a mentally impaired, grossly obese person whose only crime was selling cigarettes without collecting taxes on them. This does not call for deadly force by any stretch of the imagination.”

DeBlasio vs. DeBlasio


A Staten Island grand jury voted not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner. In August, Ofc. Daniel Pantaleo attempted to arrest Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, employing a chokehold which led to the man’s death.

Since Pantaleo is white and Garner black, the case is often compared to the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo. That has only intensified since the decision not to bring criminal charges was made public earlier today.