The news that a Staten Island grand jury has decided not to indict a NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner has prompted a widespread public outcry. But it is also important to recall the circumstances that made Garner a target in the first place:

From The Washington Times:

Was he robbing a store or attacking innocent citizens? No, police arrested Garner supposedly for selling untaxed cigarettes. The strong-arm arresting process claimed Garner’s life, all over the sale of 75-cent loose cigarettes or “loosies.”

Garner chose to participate in the booming underground cigarette market as a smuggler. Since 2009, he had been arrested eight times for selling loosies, which are popular among people who can’t afford a full pack because of the excessive taxes.

In January 2014, tough new penalties for selling untaxed cigarettes took effect in New York City. In July, emboldened by the new law, the city’s highest-ranking uniformed cop, Philip Banks, issued an order to crack down on loosie sales days before Garner died.

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Related:

Reports: Staten Island grand jury will not indict officer for chokehold death of Eric Garner

Oliver Willis: Grand jury decision in Eric Garner case shows it’s ‘open season’ on blacks