Staten Island, NY - The state of New York has one of the highest cigarette taxes in the country, amounting to roughly $6 per pack in taxes alone. Naturally, people find ways around these obnoxious taxes by importing cigarettes from other states or selling off-brand products, and naturally the government acts like the mafia and does everything in their power to see that people pay up.
In New York City, the local tax authority has conscripted the local police to hunt down people who are buying and selling any untaxed cigarettes without the state's official stamp on them. This situation had horrible results last year in Staten Island when police murdered a man named Eric Garner, who was standing on the side of the street allegedly selling untaxed "loose" cigarettes.
Make no mistake about it -- police in America will kill you for selling untaxed 'loose' cigarettes -- and they will do so with impunity.
Now this week, police in riot gear made their way around the whole town of Staten Island, indiscriminately pillaging every deli or bodega they could find, in search of untaxed cigarettes. Police went door to door searching businesses for a product that is apparently entirely legal. After violating the rights and privacy of every business in the neighborhood, police ended up searching over 40 establishments, made only two arrests, and confiscated just a few hundred cartons of cigarettes. There were over 50 police who were involved in the raids.
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The police told local media that they were hoping to find the synthetic marijuana compound "K2," but the police have not provided any evidence that these shop owners were even under suspicion of selling the drug. In fact, the police have not provided any evidence as to why they targeted the stores they did, and what type of judicial powers they used to execute such a wide net of searches across an entire neighborhood.
The guilt of the two men who were arrested is arguable in itself, however, what about the people who were not found with any 'illegal cigarettes' - why was it justified to violate their privacy and rip apart their property? For a police department to do an entire sweep of an area's businesses in a raid over taxes is undoubtedly a tell-tale sign of fascism. There were no lives in danger, no manhunt for some scary criminal - just a few business owners who were attempting to provide their customers with a more affordable product.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page and purchase his books at his website www.JohnVibes.com.