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Published:December 6th, 2014 11:37 EST

Eric Garner's Tragic Death: Americans Can't Fathom This Senseless Killing

By Robert Paul Reyes

I usually fire off an article almost immediately in response to the latest hot topic, but it`s taken me a few days to emotionally digest the Eric Garner controversy.


I didn`t need such introspection to pen my thoughts in reference to the Michael Brown controversy, in my mind Police Officer Darren Wilson was legally justified in shooting a thug, who according to the testimony of several African American witnesses, was rushing towards him when he met his fateful end.

My thoughts on the Eric Garner choking death tragedy are more nuanced and complicated.

Reasonable and intelligent people can disagree on whether racism played a role in the choking death of Eric Garner. My take is that the machismo ethos was the decisive factor; the posse of New York`s finest was determined to bring down the giant, and a much smaller officer tackled Garner from behind, applied a choke hold, and didn`t let go until he was dead.

It`s more difficult to make a case that excessive force wasn`t to blame; does it really take a small army of cops to arrest one individual on the suspicion of selling loose cigarettes? After watching the ubiquitous video of Garner`s death, it looks like a blatant case of excessive force to me.

What`s beyond dispute is that it`s an epic tragedy that a father of six was killed over New York`s cigarette taxes. When you put a tax of $6 on a pack of cigarettes, it`s inevitably going to create a black market.

In these difficult economic times Garner was trying to feed his family by selling untaxed cigarettes, someone who violates this law should be issued a ticket or fined, not tackled, choked, slammed on the sidewalk and killed in broad daylight.

I just wonder what kind of cigarettes the members of the Grand Jury were smoking to decide not to indict the officer who choked Garner to death.

I realize that Garner had previously been arrested about 30 times, and I`m aware that a scofflaw selling cigarettes for a buck each will draw crackheads and other undesirable elements, but you don`t choke a man to death, and disregard his cries of " I can`t breathe " over selling cigarettes.

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