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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

Video: Rand Paul Blames Cigarette Taxes for Death of Eric Garner

The GOP Presidential hopeful claims if NY's cigarette taxes hadn't forced Eric Garner to sell loosies, he wouldn't have been killed.

6 Substance

During Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews yesterday (video below), the 2016 GOP Presidential hopeful suggested that Eric Garner’s arrest and death could be blamed on New York’s taxing of tobacco. “I think it is hard not to watch that video of him saying ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ and not be horrified by it,” said Paul, who then suggested that politicians who support taxing tobacco are complicit in Garner’s death.

“I think it is important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes so they’ve driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive,” Paul said. “But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, ‘Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.’ For someone to die over breaking that law, there is really no excuse for it. But I do blame the politicians. We put our police in a difficult situation with bad laws.’”

A Staten Island grand jury’s decision yesterday not to indict the police officer who was caught on videotape choking and killing Eric Garner in July has sparked national outrage and protests. Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, was unarmed and selling untaxed cigarettes on the street in Staten Island when officer Daniel Pantaleo and other members of the NYPD attempted to arrest him. He was put in a chokehold and died from strangulation.