In the last few weeks, a series of videos purporting to depict police brutality by the members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) have spread on the Internet. The most egregious showed the attempted arrest of Eric Garner for allegedly selling untaxed loose cigarettes. Cops placed Garner in what looked like a chokehold (cops call it a neck restraint) and the 400-pound asthmatic died in police custody. In another case, a cop appeared to use a chokehold on a pregnant woman caught grilling in front of her house. Another showed a cop appearing to head stomp a man police were attempting to arrest because they had seen him with a small amount of marijuana—it was at least the man's eighth arrest. The substance of these incidents vary on the level and type of brutality while effecting an arrest but share one important trait: each incident began with a police engagement based on crimes that are non-violent in nature and disproportionately affect poor and marginalized people.
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