[Ppnews] Cop-on-Cop Crime in LA - American Blowback

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 8 15:15:43 EST 2013


Weekend Edition February 8-10, 2013

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/08/american-blowback/


Cop-on-Cop Crime in LA


  American Blowback

by GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER and MIKE KING

Yesterday was not simply a day like any other, and yet an entire system 
is grinding into motion to ensure that the peculiarities of the day be 
promptly forgotten: another crazy person lost it and committed 
unthinkable acts. The act of killing stands in and speaks for the 
person: look what he has done, /of course /he must be crazy. Case closed.

What they want you to see is just another Adam Lanza, just another 
inexplicable act, and when the act speaks for the assailant, words are 
secondary and there is no need to listen. But this is not, and has never 
been, a good way to understand reality.

What they want you to forget is the sheer strangeness of what is 
happening in Los Angeles. Christopher Dorner allegedly killed a police 
officer and two civilians. This was not a random shooting by a 
right-wing gun-nut mourning the loss of the "Real America." Here is a 
man with good things to say about liberal democrats, a supporter of 
heightened gun control, a former LAPD officer and Navy reservist, 
targeting his own institution, which he accused of racism, violence, and 
corruption.

*Dorner's "Last Resort"*

We know all of these things because what is most peculiar about this 
entire case is the written testament that Dorner has left us. In a 
letter titled only 
<http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/uncensored-manifesto-from-retired-lapd-officer-christopher-dorner/> 
"Last Resort" and addressed to "America," he makes clear his grievances, 
his objectives, and the rationale behind his actions -- a chilling 
declaration of war on the Los Angeles Police Department.

The press is busy citing only those bits of the statement which make 
Dorner seem crazy: when he addresses Tim Tebow or Larry David, for 
example, or when he laments the fact that he will not survive to see 
/The Hangover 3/. (See for example, Buzzfeed's "Everything You Need to 
Know 
<http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-former-lapd-cop-on-a-k>," 
which conspicuously says very little). But the vast majority of the 
letter paints a picture of someone who, while clearly undergoing some 
sort of mental break, is astonishingly lucid as to the causes and candid 
as to what he intends to do about it. These causes and these intentions, 
regardless of what you may hear on /MSNBC /or /Entertainment Tonight 
/(both will essentially carry the same message), begin and end with the 
LAPD.

The LAPD has long played a vanguard role in white supremacist policing 
in the United States. Whether it be the conscious recruitment of racist 
cops from the south in the 1960s under William Parker (sparking the 1965 
Watts Rebellion) or the continuity of well-worn brutal methods under 
Darryl Gates (sparking the massive 1992 L.A. Rebellions), there has been 
little new under the sun. Even after 1992, when change seemed for a 
moment inevitable and when the Bloods and Crips had, themselves, laid 
down arms and put forth a plan to rebuild the city, this long-needed 
transformation didn't materialize. Instead, South Central became South 
L.A., Gates was canned, and the LAPD forcibly destroyed the gang truce. 
Nothing had changed.

It wasn't long before the next scandal. Toward the end of the 1990s, 
what many had already known became public knowledge: that the LAPD, and 
especially the Rampart Division, routinely brutalized suspects and 
planted evidence. As a result of this revelation, the LAPD was charged 
under the RICO Act (as a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) 
and placed under the federal oversight of a consent decree that would 
only be lifted in 2009.

Not coincidentally, "Globocop" Bill Bratton, currently en route to 
advise the Oakland Police Department, amidst widespread public 
opposition, is credited with cleaning up the LAPD, and Dorner's 
statement appears on many websites alongside a picture of the former 
officer beaming alongside Bratton (it has emerged that Dorner mailed 
evidence to Anderson Cooper last week, including a gift from Bratton, on 
which he wrote "Thanks, but no thanks Will Bratton").

According to Dorner's statement:

    "The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King
    days. It has gotten worse. The consent decree should never have been
    lifted. The only thing that has evolved from the consent decree is
    those officers involved in the Rampart scandal and Rodney King
    incidents have since promoted to supervisor, commanders, and command
    staff, and executive positions... Are you aware that an officer...
    seen on the Rodney King videotape striking Mr. King multiple times
    with a baton on 3/3/91 is still employed by the LAPD and is now a
    Captain on the police department? ... As a commanding officer, he is
    now responsible for over 200 officers. Do you trust him to enforce
    department policy and investigate use of force investigations on
    arrestees by his officers?"

One indication of this is the fact that, during the course of more than 
a decade of investigation of the Rampart case, only five officers were 
terminated, which suggests just how shallow the investigation efforts 
were. Dorner ominously adds that "I will correct this error," and deems 
his actions a "necessary evil" not only to clear his own name, but to 
force "substantial change" within the LAPD.

According to Dorner, he was suspended in 2008 after reporting a superior 
for use of excessive force against a suspect, and eventually terminated 
in 2009. Dorner goes on to describe the prevalence of white supremacy in 
the police force: from anti-Semitic taunting to openly anti-black 
sentiment. After one incident involving use of the n-word, Dorner 
recalls confronting other officers physically, for which he was 
reprimanded. In retrospect, he reflects, with regard to the speaker of 
the word, "What I should have done, was put a Winchester Ranger SXT 9mm 
147 grain bullet in his skull." On the day that his fellow officers were 
given what were effectively paid suspensions, "That day, the LAPD stated 
that it is acceptable for fellow officers to call black officers niggers 
to their face and you will receive a slap on the wrist."

*A Bloody Fight for Honor on the Other Side of the Blue Line*

    "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. I
    lived a good life and though not a religious man I always stuck to
    my own personal code of ethics, ethos and always stuck to my
    shoreline and true North. I didn't need the US Navy to instill
    Honor, Courage, and Commitment in me but I thank them for
    re-enforcing it. It's in my DNA."

    --Christopher Dorner

It is clear from Dorner's communiqué that he feels that he is following 
a code of honor against an unlawful body that has sullied his name; his 
objective being to reclaim his honor. Through his spectacle of violence 
he is also overtly drawing attention to his self-identity -- as a black 
man, as an "honest officer"/ conscientious worker, and as a veteran -- 
counter-posed against institutions of corruption, deceit and abuse. In 
an effort that he clearly self-defines as terrorism, Dorner invokes 
old-West, rugged individualism: "Unfortunately, I will not be alive to 
see my name cleared. That's what this is about, my name. A man is 
nothing without his name." At length, Dorner goes through ideal-types of 
various officers' grouped by race, and explicitly cites their role in 
reproducing white supremacy. He makes clear that he is patriotic and 
loves the government (and Chris Christie); his war is with the LAPD.

Not unlike many mass killers, Dorner's writing exhibits a 
hyper-vigilant(e) feeling of betrayal and unwavering need for revenge. 
His writing reflects a self-conscious awareness of this role, a 
self-forged morality that invokes clear Zarathustra-like qualities of 
the Overman imposing his will on weak and vile petty tyrants. Dorner says:

    "I am here to change and make policy. The culture of LAPD versus the
    community and honest/good officers needs to and will change. I am
    here to correct and calibrate your morale (sic) compasses to true
    north."

Dorner's writing also features a list of thanks to everyone from George 
H.W. Bush to Charlie Sheen. The following quote has extensively repeated 
in the press, and bears some interrogation: "If possible, I want my 
brain preserved for science/research to study the effects of severe 
depression on an individual's brain." To dismiss this as simple madness, 
is to individualize this man and his actions (however they are 
interpreted) as apolitical and random, another tragic coupling of broken 
people with fully-functional weapons. It is clear, through his 
chronicling of long-past slights un-avenged, interspersed with calls for 
more gun control and an endorsement for Hillary Clinton for President, 
that he is troubled. Dorner writes, "Ask yourselves what would cause 
somebody to take these drastic measures like I did. That's what is 
important."

This is surely a discussion the LAPD would not pine over if it did not 
happen. It is a discourse that is foreign to the press, even the likes 
of liberals like Chris Matthews, that Dorner lauds. Soldier-Officer 
Dorner sits, using his training against the force that trained him, 
waiting to unleash his next attack. The extent to which we go to Dr. 
Drew for helpful insights in the next few days and not victims of police 
brutality or whistle-blower cops or to analyses of race and policing in 
our cities, the extent to which we talk about gun control and not how 
and why the men who beat Rodney King got to run the LAPD instead of 
being run out of it, is the extent to which we sit and wait, feeding 
ammunition to the next Christopher Dorner.

*A Defection in the Occupation Forces*

Now Dorner has declared war on the LAPD and he has named targets: "The 
enemy combatants in LA are not the citizens and suspects, it's the 
police officers." To a list of different offenders, he adds the ominous 
promise: "You are a high value target." The parameters of the violence 
he has seen meted out to everyday poor residents of Los Angeles 
structures his own response, such as when he urges:

    "Citizens/non-combatants, do not render medical aid to downed
    officers/enemy combatants. They would not do the same for you. They
    will let you bleed out... don't honor these fallen
    officers/dirtbags. When your family members die, they just see you
    as extra overtime at a crime scene and at a perimeter. Why would you
    value their lives when they clearly don't value yours or your family
    members lives?"

He has studied the new counterinsurgency doctrine, as rewritten in 2006 
by General David Petraeus, and he turns its language against its 
authors, comparing himself to insurgent forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
"I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD 
uniform whether on or off duty. ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and 
Reconnaissance] is my strength and your weakness. You will now live the 
life of the prey."

Frantz Fanon argued pointedly that exploitation, occupation, and 
colonization simply cannot exist without racism and torture of one form 
or another. As a result, it is useless to oppose the violence of 
occupation, or the torture made so palpable in Zero Dark Thirty, without 
opposing the occupation itself, of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of South 
Central L.A. Yes, something similar could be said of the LAPD, and here 
we begin to grasp why this most violent of institutions has so rigidly 
resisted change: because its historically brutal and terroristic 
tactics, the daily oppression and humiliation exerted most directly at 
poor black and brown /Angelinos/, are merely symptoms of the LAPD's 
structural function.

When Fanon resigned his post as a psychiatrist to join the Algerian 
Revolution, he was merely putting into revolutionary practice what he 
had practiced in the analyst's chair for years. For Fanon, mental 
neuroses, especially among people of color, were the result not of any 
inherent trait or familial trauma, but of the profound trauma imposed by 
white supremacist and colonial society. And since social structures 
generate many mental illnesses, we cannot hope to cure these without 
destroying the institutions that make people sick in the first place.

It was this imperative that led Fanon to throw himself into the armed 
struggle, and when he did so, he wrote that: "A society that drives its 
members to desperate solutions is a non-viable society, a society to be 
replaced." There can be no more powerful symptom of desperation, no more 
direct indicator of the non-viability of existing institutions, than 
this hunted man named Christopher Dorner.

There's nothing pretty about the desperate actions of a soon-to-be-dead 
man, but we owe it to ourselves, and to the world, to at least attempt 
to understand. To be clear: Dorner's statement is not a revolutionary 
manifesto, and he certainly didn't grasp the structural relationship 
between occupation and LAPD brutality, but his statement and his actions 
/are /deeply symptomatic of a social illness that it does not name. If 
the adage "you reap what you sow" were not already the slogan of the 
week when unrepentant Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, who embraced the 
murderous dehumanization of his profession 
<http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/us/texas-sniper-killed-kyle-profile/index.html>, 
was killed at a Texas gun range last Saturday, this is now undeniable.

*Shoot to Kill: Counterinsurgency and Collateral Damage*

Given its social function, the LAPD simply cannot be anything but racist 
and brutal, and as though attempting to prove Dorner's point, the 
response to his attacks has been as brutal as anything. The thin blue 
line of secrecy among officers has been replaced by a thick blue line, 
protecting officers and their families while unleashing unrestrained 
violence on southern California. In only the most infamous incident of 
yesterday, two women delivering newspapers were shot by trigger-happy 
officers 
<http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/ex-cop-manhunt-newspaper-delivery-women-shot.html> 
who, it seems, mistook their royal blue truck for Dorner's gray one. 
Dozens of bullet holes riddled the back of the pickup, their clusters 
suggesting a clear intent to kill without identifying. Within the 
context of legitimate, open threats to officers, the "shoot anything 
that moves" approach is perhaps an accentuation, but hardly an 
aberration, from the norm.

The application of a counterinsurgency model of urban policing in cities 
like Los Angeles is longstanding. In Los Angeles alone, from bulldozed 
houses in "Operation Hammer" and the invention of gang injunctions in 
the mid-late 1980s, to the racialized use of checkpoints, and the 
routine abuses Dorner points to today, the "War on Crime" is a war in 
every sense of the word. The LAPD gang unit trains troops headed to 
Afghanistan in how to develop informants and use counterinsurgency 
tactics 
<http://www.prisonabolitionist.org/2011/09/counterinsurgency-and-community.html> 
to control "hostile" populations and spaces. The abuses that Dorner 
lists are the effects of this logic of occupation, a term officers 
themselves use to describe their work. As with criminal Ramparts 
officers getting promotions, Dorner sees the daily routines of abuse as 
morally wrong, but without seeing the logic of the broader structures in 
which those practices are embedded.

The violent overlap between modern warfare and domestic policing, of 
which Dorner is a strange byproduct of, is especially acute among police 
officers that are returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. The 
increased levels of PTSD and violence among veterans in general, is 
amplified, not only by holding a job that empowers, and sometimes 
requires, the use of deadly force, but because the current methods of 
contemporary urban policing have become enmeshed with the overall 
objectives, strategic logic, and daily practice of counterinsurgency.

As Oakland brings on former LAPD Chief William Bratton to add a play or 
two to Oakland's counterinsurgency manual, the OPD, City Council, and 
District Attorney continue to refuse to fire and criminally charge 
Miguel Masso, an Iraq veteran who had previously tortured a man in 
custody when with the NYPD, before shooting and killing 18-year old Alan 
Blueford in East Oakland last May 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/07/12/justice-for-alan-blueford/>, as 
he laid on the ground and cried "I didn't do anything." Despite Masso's 
account of what happened seriously conflicting with the coroner's report 
and witness accounts, Masso still has his job. Without pathologizing 
veterans it is clear that there are serious concerns here. /For the time 
being/, Masso is another one of those cops who gets paid leave, who gets 
to walk the streets, who may get a medal or a promotion down the line -- 
though there are many people in Oakland continuing to try and see 
otherwise. It is the commonness of excuses for police abuse/murder, the 
erasure of the victims as collateral damage that should be highlighted 
when trying to make sense of this broken, rogue former-LA cop.

*A Gravedigger in Uniform*

    /"I am the walking exigent circumstance you created." /

    /-- Christopher Dorner/

Much like Dan Freeman, the main character in Stan Greenlee's classic 
book and film, /The Spook Who Sat By the Door/, Christopher Dorner is 
the dialectical gravedigger of a dying system: armed, trained, and 
prepared by a system which prizes cop culture, which massively arms the 
police and unleashes them on the poor and racialized, and which in its 
late stages demands that black people do the work of white supremacy. In 
this circumstance, those skills are being utilized against the police. 
Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz 
<http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-california-copbre9160sm-20130207,0,4121853.story> 
said, "This is a somewhat unprecedented, or at least rare occurrence -- 
a trained, heavily armed person who is hunting for police officers." 
  LAPD Chief Charlie Beck 
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/07/christopher-dorner-manhunt-los-angeles_n_2638023.html> 
added, "Of course he knows what he's doing; we trained him. He was also 
a member of the Armed Forces... It is extremely worrisome and scary."

For Marx, capitalism would sow the seeds of its own destruction and 
produce its own gravedigger, the proletariat. Fanon recognized, however, 
that this gravedigger might be characterized more by the "desperate 
solutions" to which they turn than by their class consciousness. In the 
United States today, late capitalism is equally shot through with white 
supremacy and upheld by brute force by increasingly heavy-handed police. 
It should not surprise us when the gravediggers assume an ominously 
different form.

/*George Ciccariello-Maher* is assistant professor of political science 
at Drexel University. He is the author of We Created Chávez: A People's 
History of the Venezuelan Revolution 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0822354527/counterpunchmaga> and 
can be reached at gjcm(at)drexel.edu. /

/*Mike King* is a Ph.D candidate in sociology at UC Santa Cruz, and can 
be reached at mikeking0101(at)gmail.com. Both study policing and 
counterinsurgency./

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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