Eric Garner 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law

Herbert Spencer, author of The Man versus the State

Herbert Spencer, author of The Man versus the State

Eric Garner 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law

Ilana Mercer laments another death by cop

Eric Garner was doing nothing naturally illicit when he was tackled and placed in the chokehold that killed him. It can be argued, if anything, that Garner was being entrepreneurial. He had been trading untaxed cigarettes in defiance of the state’s “slave patrol” and “Comrade” Andrew Cuomo’s “Cigarette Strike Force,” in the words of liberty’s Don Quixote, William Norman Grigg.

Had Garner’s naturally licit trade not been criminalized by today’s Tammany Hall, he’d still be alive.

“Garner,” wrote Grigg, “had suffered years of pointless and unnecessary harassment by the costumed predators employed by the New York Police Department,” when he declared, minutes before he was killed: “Every time you see me, you want to mess with me! I’m tired of it! It stops today!”

Noted Grigg: Eric Garner’s exasperated proclamation ‘It stops today!’ is cognate with ‘Don’t tread on me.’

The killing of Eric Garner was caught on camera and uploaded to YouTube. A grand jury, however, failed to see what was as plain as day to everyone else as well as to the city medical examiner. An autopsy revealed that the Garner death was a homicide, brought on, July 17, by “compression of the neck and chest, along with Garner’s positioning on the ground while being restrained by police.”

The footage also shows that the cops who jumped on Eric Garner with such enthusiasm were oblivious to his repeated pleas for air. Neither was an attempt at resuscitation commenced once they realized Garner was unresponsive. Instead, the cops panicked, barking orders at observers to disperse.

Garner’s manner of death conjures the manner in which Carol Anne Gotbaum met her untimely demise, in 2008. Gotbaum, a petite, 45-year-old slip of a woman—she weighed 105 pounds—was likely asphyxiated in Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport by some corpulent cops. She had become distraught—not dangerous—after she was detained at the airport and not permitted to proceed to her destination. Unhinged, Gotbaum took off down the concourse hollering. She was quickly scrummed by meaty policemen, tackled to the ground, a colossal knee jabbed into her skinny spine. Gotbaum was then thrown in a holding cell, where she was shackled and chained to a bench. Minutes later Gotbaum was dead.

Her bruised body was autopsied. As inevitably as water spiraling down a plughole, the police were exonerated. Famous forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden said: “… the most likely cause of death has to do with asphyxia and could be a result of too much pressure on her chest when they were putting on the handcuffs and the shackles.”

Carol Anne Gotbaum was white. Cops are equal-opportunity offenders. Factoring into account the disproportionate representation of blacks among the population of law-breakers, cops aggress against whites and blacks more or less equally. In contemporary America, whites are less likely to riot than blacks.

Not to be conflated are the cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, of Ferguson fame. While the evidence of police wrongdoing in Garner’s death is incontrovertible, the reverse is true in Brown versus Officer Darren Wilson.

As the evidence shows, Michael Brown initiated aggression. He had aggressed against the store keeper and the policeman, who protected himself from this rushing mountain of flesh. In libertarian law, the individual may defend himself against initiated aggression. He may not initiate aggression against a non-aggressor.

Eric Garner, on the other hand, had aggressed against nobody. Whereas Brown was stealing cigarillos; Garner was selling his own cigarettes. The “law” he violated was one that violated Garner’s individual, natural right to dispose of his own property—“loosies”—at will.

In libertarian law, Garner is thus 100 percent innocent. For the good libertarian abides by the axiom of non-aggression. When enforcers of the shakedown syndicate came around to bust him, Garner raised his voice, gestured and turned to walk away from his harassers. He did not aggress against or hurt anyone of the goons.

To plagiarize myself in “Tasers ‘R’ Us,” “Liberty is a simple thing. It’s the unassailable right to shout, flail your arms, even verbally provoke a politician [or policeman] unmolested. Tyranny is when those small things can get you assaulted, incarcerated, injured, even killed.”

Again: Garner had obeyed the libertarian, natural law absolutely. He was trading peacefully. In the same spirit, he turned to walk away from a confrontation. Befitting this pacific pattern, Garner had broken up a street fight prior to his murder.

The government has a monopoly over making and enforcing law— it decides what is legal and what isn’t. Thus it behooves thinking people to question the monopolist and his laws. After all, cautioned the great Southern constitutional scholar James McClellan, “What is legally just, may not be what is naturally just.” “Statutory man-made law” is not necessarily just law.

Unlike the positive law, which is state-created, natural law in not enacted. Rather, it is a higher law—a system of ethics—knowable through reason, revelation and experience. “By natural law,” propounded McClellan in “Liberty, Order, And Justice,” “we mean those principles which are inherent in man’s nature as a rational, moral, and social being, and which cannot be casually ignored.”

Eric Garner was on “public” property. Had he been trespassing on private property, the proprietor would have been in his right to remove him. However, Garner was not violating anyone’s rights or harming anyone by standing on a street corner and peddling his wares—that is unless the malevolent competition which sicced the cops on him has a property right in their prior profits. They don’t.

ILANA MERCER is a paleolibertarian writer based in the United States. She pens WND’s longest-standing column, “Return to Reason” and is a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. She is a Quarterly Review Contributing Editor. Ilana’s latest book is Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her website is She blogs at


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