By Steven Hsieh / Alternet
Editor’s note: The republishing of this article is not intended to condone murder for any reason. Rather, it is to turn attention away from the modern-day manhunt glorified by mainstream media, in which sightings of Dorner have occurred simultaneously in multiple areas, and instead highlight the deeper societal issues at hand.
Today, Los Angeles police continued the manhunt for a former police officer that allegedly killed three people in a rampage targeting LAPD police and their families. In pursuit of the alleged gunman LAPD officers shot two women they mistakenly believed were driving Dorner’s car.
Christopher Dorner who was fired from the police department in 2008, posted a 6,000-word memo to Facebook before his alleged killing spree began Thursday. The manifesto explained how his experiences with the LAPD, which he said included years of unchecked corruption and racism from his colleagues and superiors, were his motivation for the violence. Dorner claims he lost his badge in 2008 for trying to expose corruption in the department.
The corporate media’s account of the story, however, nearly entirely ignores the former officer’s lengthy explanation, perhaps in efforts to cast Dorner as yet another lunatic in an era of mass (and mostly unexplained) shootings. Even worse, when the mainstream media does note Dorner’s letter, it refuses to acknowledge the reality of modern police abuse. As one New York Times homepage story says:
Mr. Dorner laid out grievances against a police department that he said remained riddled with racism and corruption, a reference to a chapter of the department’s history that, in the view of many people, was swept aside long ago.
But here’s what the Times — and all other corporate journalism articles — won’t tell you: Racism and widespread corruption is still an institutional part of the L.A. police department.
In 2011, reports of endemic, interdepartmental racism led to a shakeup in the LAPD’s central division. One allegation from the case noted a Sergeant presenting an African American officer “a cake topped with a piece of fried chicken and a slice of watermelon.” In March, a 15-year LAPD veteran was charged with pulling people over based on racial profiling. And just last November, a video surfaced showing LAPD officer Jorge Santander using a Taser stun gun on a handcuffed woman, conflicting earlier claims Santander made in 2010.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. According to a spreadsheet published by the Los Angeles Time, the LAPD paid hundreds of settlements from 2002 to 2011 in cases of brutality, sexual harassment, civil rights and discrimination based on race, gender, disability and sexual orientation. This list of abuses bears profound resemblance to the culture Dorner describes in his manifesto:
From 2/05 to 1/09 I saw some of the most vile things humans can inflict on others as a police officer in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the streets of LA. It was in the confounds of LAPD police stations and shops (cruisers). The enemy combatants in LA are not the citizens and suspects, it’s the police officers.
In his manifesto, Dorner characterizes himself as a man driven to murder by an unyielding, racist system:
Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name. The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse.
Dorner goes on to recount his own personal experience with racism, from playground bullying to alleged institutional abuse in the LAPD. Your Black World’s Maria Lloyd calls Dorner “The Product of Racism in America” and suggests his rampage occurred as a result of years of racism against him. She cites a University of Washington in St. Louis study tying violent behavior with stress derived from racial discrimination in young African American men.
In his manifesto, Dorner expressed dismay with our society’s institutionalized racism:
I’m not an aspiring rapper, I’m not a gang member, I’m not a dope dealer, I don’t have multiple babies momma’s. I am an American by choice, I am a son, I am a brother, I am a military service member, I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system betrayed, slandered, and libeled me.
bob dorn says
Okay, the first thing anyone must say when confronting this huge story is, all the injustice made abundantly available to and too commonly suffered by all us nobodies can’t justify random killings, or even rationally targeted ones. We all have to bear up under the provocation. The role of executioner is for those with diseased egos, egos as diseased as hedge fund managers and most white and Southern politicians. But, as the author suggests, in a society that rewards certain kinds of thuggery and inhumanity we can’t be surprised when one of those at the receiving end goes ballistic.
Why now, years later? Why lose it four years later? No matter the rationale, he crossed the line and in doing so muted his issues. LAPD has been corrupt for decades. Consider that 85% of the force do not live in LA. This has been well known for years. We need not look too far from home for that. It still neither explains nor justifies murder.
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
Is this entire story crazy or what? Yes it is, thanks to the ubiquitous connectivity of the internet which has amplified this aggrieved shooter’s manifesto, legitimized false sightings and exacerbated the chances of police error.
It’s way more surreal than the SoCal manhunt for Richard Ramirez, the so-called Hillside Strangler; or the TV helicopter-covered flight of OJ Simpson’s SUV on LA freeways; or the nationwide dragnet for our own Bishop’s School grad Andrew Cunannon (sic) who murdered Gianni Versace in Miami.
Jillian Barclay says
My best friend worked in the mental health unit of the largest County Women’s Jail in California as a psychiatric social worker. Many of the sheriff’s deputies were serial abusive torturers of the mentally ill women being held for trial or convicted of both minor and major offenses. They treated the inmates like animals and never thought twice about being punished or fired for their actions. They knew they were immune from prosecution and called the jail “their house”. They acted with impunity and took great pleasure from their sadistic actions. Even those deputies with ethics remained silent because they knew what would face them and their families if they spoke up and reported their ‘brothers’ in blue.
The current case of Christopher Dorner is not surprising. The man has no excuse for committing murder and should be brought to justice, but at the same time, there is an inherent lack of accountability in police and sheriff’s departments throughout this country. Many members of law ennforcement are simply psychotics with badges-and they are far more dangerous than Christopher Dorner.
I have met and known many good policemen, but have also run into the a*****es that believe they make the laws and that whatever they want to do is just fine. As for the ‘good’ ones, how can they be that good when they turn a blind eye?
As for my friend, she left the County Jail rather than stay in a corrupt and abusive organization.
bob dorn says
Amen to all that.
John Lawrence says
Echoes of the Unabomber, Ted Kazynski, who murdered in order to draw attention to his Manifesto which was eventually published in an effort to get info that would lead to his capture. His brother recognized the writing style and eventually implicated him. Dorner seems to be engaged in a similar effort. However, neither the media nor hardly anyone else will give his manifesto any credibility despite what it may deserve. All his assertions will be discounted although they have reopened his dismissal case. For guys such as Dorner, an incipient whistleblower, it would be better to seek out ways in which to blow the whistle without committing murder.
Unfortunately Christopher Dorner has become a violently confused person. Too bad he didn’t seek mental help. Too bad he was so naive to this world, especially the world of cops.
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
What else is scary about this “manhunt ” is the trigger-response of cops in SoCal and the downplaying (or silence) about collateral damage done three ordinary mortals (so far) who were fired on by police who mistook them for shooter Dorner.
A woman was killed and her daughter hospitalized after police shot up their truck as they were making early morning rounds delivering the Los Angeles Times. A man miraculously escaped injury after his vehicle was suddenly rammed and fired upon by police who mistook it for Dorner’s.
I doubt that Dorner will be taken alive at this rate and wonder what other innocent
people may perish as this shoot-em-up plays out. Not good, not good at all.
Definitely not good but unfortunately is business as usual. The cops involved will not face any disciplinary action. The people and their family members will not receive any compensation. There will probably be more along the way. There is a shockingly large number of people out there who are not even outraged by this.
So racism still exists at LAPD. I don’t think that’s a surprise or even relevant.
I looked at the details behind Dorner’s claims of wrongful termination, and here were some uncomfortable facts:
The officer he initially had a problem with was not a white male but a woman.
She observed Dorner as he returned to duty from the military, as behaving in a bizarre manner, doing things such as crying in his patrol car.
She notified supervisors of his troubling behavior in a report. A review hearing was scheduled for Dorner.
About a week later Dorner files a report on this woman officer alleging she abused a suspect she was arresting, yet the hospital report confirms his injury was not from the abuse Dorner claimed but consistent with a fall that was not disputed as to happening. While the suspect gave an account agreeing with Dorner that should not be a surprise, and the man suffered from a number of mental issues. The hospital should be considered the neutral witness, the man had no injury evident to confirm Dorner’s claim.
I can’t claim this as fact but it appears Dorner fabricated a counter complaint against this female officer in retaliation to the report on him.
Dorner’s claims against LAPD center around an overall atmosphere condoning abuse and other offenses, largely based upon his claims his own report against the female officer was ignored- and the report on him (which was in essence that he was a nutter who could snap any time IMO) lead to him being fired.
SO if I have my facts in order with all of the above, here we have Dorner snapping.
The LAPD may be corrupt as hell but that’s a separate issue from the sorry case of Bob Dorner. Psychopath murderer who the LAPD rightfully identified and ejected from their ranks at the first sign of his problems.
If you can’t recognize when an entity like the LAPD is getting it right, how would you know when they have it wrong- and do you think they would care to discern themselves if you kept misjudging them? Dorner likely knew the smokescreen he could create by fanning the flames of racism and corruption, when the only thing going on was his own degrading mental condition and murderous revenge plot for what he perceived was a wrongful firing.
We should check all our facts and if in order, not let him play us for fools.