Español New York City residents protesting the police killing of Eric Garner plan to give away loose cigarettes in exchange for donations in Times Square. The event takes place on Saturday, January 10, with the funds gained going toward a local charity.
In July 2014, NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo choked Garner to death while arresting him for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
The Manhattan Libertarian Party (LP) is behind the “charity drive mixed with a protest” to rally against police brutality and the ban on the sale of loose cigarettes. The funds raised will go to support Project Hospitality, a food bank in Garner’s Staten Island. “That means we’re doing something doubly good for society,” says the party’s website.
In a press statement, party chairman Brian Waddell said members are “fed up with the silly laws that make it possible for these terrible tragedies to happen.”
NYC Smoke-Free and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, two advocates for a anti-smoking laws, declined to comment on the planned protest.
“So you can’t sell loose cigarettes in NYC, but who says you can’t give them away?” posits the Manhattan LP. The NYPD press office, however, has said it is researching the legality of handing out loose cigarettes for donations.
The sale of loose cigarettes known as “loosies” surged after state and city taxes soared in New York and New York City. As a result of the tax, sellers have looked to purchase less expensive cigarettes in neighboring states and resell them in the city.
In December 2014, a grand jury dropped all criminal charges against Pantaleo, the NYC police officer who killed Garner. The ruling followed a similar decision in the Michael Brown case in Missouri, where a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed the unarmed Brown.
In both cases, the grand jury’s announcement was met with protests from thousands of people across several major US cities. Later that month, a gunman killed two NYPD officers, in an apparent response to the killing of Eric Garner.
Source: US News.