Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) thinks the death of Eric Garner is symbolic of a much larger problem in American society: politicians levying taxes on things like cigarettes.
During an interview on MSNBC's "Hardball" Wednesday evening, Paul said that it was hard to watch the video of Garner being put in a chokehold and not be "horrified."
"But I think there's something bigger than just the individual circumstances," Paul said. "Obviously the individual circumstances are important, but I think it's also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes, so they've driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive."
Paul went on to blame politicians for putting police in a position where they had to arrest someone for selling a loose cigarette.
"Some politician also had to direct the police to say, 'Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.' And for someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it," Paul said. "But I do blame the politicians, we've put our police in a difficult situation with bad laws."
Several other politicians expressed outrage over a grand jury's decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Garner in the chokehold that led to his death this summer, as a matter of equal treatment under the law.
"We're not just dealing with a problem in 2014, we're not dealing with years of racism leading up to it, or decades of racism, we are dealing with centuries of racism that have brought us to this day. That is how profound the crisis is," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that issues of mistrust between law enforcement and minority communities were "an American problem."
"We are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement," Obama said. "When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that's a problem."