News & Politics

CA Shooter: 'I am a Man Who Has Lost Complete Faith in the System'

While the ex-officer's rampage is terrible, his manifesto reveals truths about our society that can't be ignored.

Photo Credit: Flikr/JBrazito

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:

Don't let big tech control what news you see. Get more stories like this in your inbox, every day.

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.

Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.