Why is Christopher Dorner's Manifesto so Important?
“I was told by my mother that sometimes bad things happen to good people. I refuse to believe that.” Christopher Dorner wrote this line in his 6,000-word manifesto in reference to racism and general prejudice he's seen and felt in the LAPD. In Dorner's case, I think the worst thing that happened to him was the deadly change in mindset. An otherwise good man, he fell from the position of positive do-gooder to dangerous sociopath. His emotionally overwrought and grammatically flawed (yet still impressive) writing exposes an LAPD built on injustice, promoting officers who have wronged LA's citizens more than the citizens have wronged the city.
The case Dorner focuses on most of all is of a particular female officer who brutally kicked a schizophrenic man who had been arrested for a minor infraction. Instead of the officer meeting with appropriate repercussions for her actions (her nickname around the station was apparently Chupacabra due to other use of force incidents), she was promoted to Sergeant. It's a case Dorner states he attempted to set right by getting the woman terminated, but was instead terminated himself. Though all names mentioned are censored in the manifesto, with the exception of Quan's father, Chief Beck, and various Presidents and celebrities, it sounds like the “Chupacabra” and the male officer Dorner mentions she was dating could be victims Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence.
Dorner mentions instances of racism within the department and in his childhood, discussing an incident that occurred when an officer used the word “nigger” in a conversation in a cruiser among a group of officers. In response to the use of the word, which he understandably despised, Dorner attempted to choke the man to death before being restrained by the accompanying officers. This instance, along with a time when he was called that same name as a kid and responded with violence, reveals a man who was never raised to deal with bad situations or injustice without using violence. This, along with his black and white views of people's morality—labeling people as simply good or bad—were part of what culminated in the events that took place this past week. And though I feel Dorner's intentions were noble, his distorted perception of death being a necessary course of action was where he was stuck in a moral conundrum, and has seemed to have launched one within the public's reactions. Many don't know whether to see Dorner as a hero or a monster. Could he be both?
If what Dorner writes about the LAPD is true, it displays a system that needs to be changed from the top down, with careless and corrupt senior supervisors perpetuating the problem just as much as the officers at the bottom. Racism and other injustices on the part of the police department are certainly expressed in this manifesto, and any attempts to do right and correct these problems is met with ignorance.
The media only portrays Dorner as a simple cop killing madman, and while nobody involved deserved to be killed, there's a sincerity and desperation in Dorner that in reality was developed largely due to the attitude of the very department we're supposed to sympathize with. Every excerpt from his manifesto that appears in major newspapers and TV stations is a simple threat or celebrity (or Presidential) endorsement or condemnation. Dorner only discusses celebrities in the second half of his 20-page diatribe (I hate to even call it that as it really is a lot more). You'll notice just about every experience mentioned with the LAPD specifically discusses how he tried his best to assert a diplomatic solution to corruption.
I don't agree that killing cops was the right move. I don't care how bad they were, as long as they weren't killing people and could somehow have been stopped otherwise, they didn't deserve death. Termination and public scrutiny for their misdeeds, sure, but not the loss of the right to live. That said, the rampage certainly got people, including myself, to examine the corruption of the LAPD, and as a Chicagoan I can't say from experience that the Chicago PD is any better or worse, thankfully never having had an encounter, but from what I've heard it isn't any less corrupt and unethical.
What we have here is a perceived martyr for many, a man going down in flames, literally, to push for change when all other avenues were extinguished. His killing those officers is the single act that prevents him from being a hero, but the real tragedy of this may be that people wouldn't have heard this man's call for a law enforcement paradigm shift otherwise. As Dorner beautifully puts it in his manifesto regarding the LAPD, “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. How ironic that you utilize a fixed glass structure as your command HQ.” As any police department would do, it has completely ignored the accusations laid out within the manifesto as lies. Pretty elaborate lies for someone who hasn't proven himself in the past to be a fiction writer.
Dorner wanted to push for tougher gun control laws, as he purposefully bought the same high-powered weapons used in the Sandy Hook Elementary and the Portland mall shootings, stating that nobody should be able to get hold of those guns as easily as he did. Almost makes me think of a conspiracy theory that the government fabricated this manifesto in an attempt for a louder call for gun control, but I do believe this thing screams genuine in every aspect, imperfect grammar and all. I just wish the manifesto (or perhaps an intelligent blog) could have been enough to raise Dorner above the rest while still gaining attention about the issue. Hell, he could have written a book if he refocused the same discipline he had when preparing for the actions he took.
If it's one thing that Dorner did, it was garner attention to a series of problems that still unfortunately need to be addressed: police corruption, racism, and the ability to so easily purchase high-powered rifles without a background or psych check. The case for which he was fired was even reopened, though much to the spite of the LAPD. He's not a martyr, but Chris Dorner will forever go down as a man who is a key figure in ending what should have ended long ago. His violence can be viewed as a product of the very injustice he fought against, like Frankenstein's monster trying to kill Frankenstein. Though the media has worked hard to keep everybody in the dark as to his true and noble cause, the truth he spoke cannot be entirely silenced for those willing to listen.
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