By: Chanda Hsu Prescod-Weinstein
Someone was selling cigarettes illegally. The State didn’t need the money, but it did want to be in control of how everyday citizens made money. When the authorities showed up, the enforcers could have let the sale of contraband cigarettes go, but they didn’t. Instead, they used force and the cigarette seller ended up on the ground. Not long after, a man was dead.
On first thought, this sounds like it’s just the story of Eric Garner’s death on July 17, 2014 in New York City, USA.
But Eric Garner’s story resonates across the continents and the decades. The story above could have been describing not his death but instead an incident that occurred decades earlier in another hemisphere, with the death of an unnamed man in a crowd that gathered when the cigarette seller was attacked by police on February 27, 1947 in Taipei, Taiwan.