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America’s deadly wealth pyramid: Eric Garner stood his ground and was crushed for it

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On the fifth anniversary of Eric Garner’s homicide we were flooded with the video images of his takedown by NYPD officers. What’s been lost in this retrospective was Mr. Garner’s defiant stand minutes earlier when he was first confronted by the police for the economic “high crime and misdemeanor” of selling single individual, untaxed cigarettes.

It stops today,” said the normally affable Garner. He knew the drill. He had been arrested before for depriving the state of the tax revenue on a pack of cigarettes that goes for $14 so as to feed his family.

The corporate news media prefers this be only about race, so they fixate on the role of the police in those traumatic moments when he was fighting to breathe. They dare not open their aperture for the essential widescreen shot of the corrupt political economy that had been squeezing him, as it does tens of millions of Americans every day as part of the drive to increasingly concentrate wealth at the top.

At 6’ 3” and 350 pounds, Mr. Garner had just broken up a fight and restored public order, before the police arrived. The 43-year-old father of six had worked as a mechanic and a city gardener before his asthma and diabetes sidelined him.

In Mr. Garner’s moment of defiance, before he became a victim, he stood on the same ground as the pre-Revolutionary Sons of Liberty who successfully resisted Britain’s Stamp Act and the farmers in Shay’s Rebellion who unsuccessfully tried to resist state economic policies that were driving them into poverty and off their land.

When the poor and working class, living in society’s shrinking margins resist even verbally, like Mr. Garner did, they risk feeling the full physical force of a legal system 24-7 . It is all about using the police to enforce the pecking order as defined by capitalist economics even if it takes lives in the process.

Liberty and justice have absolutely nothing to do with it as demonstrated in the........

© Salon