This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, working title Reluctant Racist.
Eric Garner, the big, heavy-set black man killed by being put into a choke hold by NYC cops, was probably committing a crime. Not a violent crime, not a crime against humanity, not a robbery, not a drug offense. No, Eric Garner was probably committing the crime of selling loose cigarettes, or “loosies” as we used to call them when I was growing up in the Bronx. This is a crime because loose cigarettes are typically not taxed the way normal cigarettes are, so the government does not get its fair share of taxes from their sale. Eric Garner was probably committing a tax crime. For this alleged tax crime, (the cop never actually saw Garner selling the cigarettes, but Garner had had a history of having done so) the officer felt compelled to take Garner into custody. Garner protested, then resisted, claiming that he had not been selling any cigarettes and had none in his possession at the time. The cop, not able to take the big man down to handcuff him, threw a choke hold on him, and along with 4-5 other cops brought Eric Garner to the ground, all the while Garner yelling “I can’t breathe”. They got the handcuffs on. Eric Garner died of a heart attack manifested by the asphyxiation he suffered as a result of that choke hold.
All you need to remember is that Eric Garner, a fat black man who lived in a run-down neighborhood in NYC is dead for what likely amounts to a few hundred dollars in tax money. And because he resisted arrest by refusing to put his hands behind his back.
Cliven Bundy, the big, heavy-set millionaire white man who grazes his cattle on public land while refusing to pay the taxes required for that privilege was definitely committing a crime. He had admitted to refusing to pay these taxes based on the premise that he doesn’t acknowledge the right of the federal government to levy these taxes on public land. Yes, Cliven Bundy was definitely committing a tax crime. Not only did Cliven Bundy resist arrest, he got his buddies to come out and point guns at federal marshals while doing so! The federal marshals backed down, deciding that Bundy’s millions in unpaid taxes were not worth killing people over. Cliven Bundy, a white millionaire who committed, and admitted, his tax crime, is not only alive, but he’s free to drive around in his Cadillac and thumb his nose at the government that tried to collect their fair share of taxes.
And all you need to remember about Cliven Bundy is that a fat white millionaire who lives out on his thousand acre ranch in Nevada is alive for what likely amounts to millions of dollars in tax money. And because he resisted arrest by threatening to kill federal marshals with guns.
If anyone wonders why many black people don’t feel like equal members of society, maybe this will help to explain it.