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The Milton Measure

Dorner Manhunt Reveals Racism

by on Friday, February 22nd, 2013

The police should know better than anyone how to separate right from wrong. The institution exists for all people to feel protected, not threatened. But the killing spree of former Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner — in which he murdered three LAPD cops and then led police on a six-day manhunt until taking his own life — has only intensified the lack of faith our nation has in its police forces. Dorner, a thirty-three year old African-American army veteran and former cop, claimed that such an explicit statement of violence was required for the LAPD to come to terms with how deeply rooted its internal problems have become. Dorner’s anger towards the LAPD comes from losing his job as an officer in 2009 after filing a report about the improper conduct of a fellow cop. While Dorner’s colleague allegedly kicked a detainee in the face, the LAPD doubted the credibility of the Dorner’s statement, and terminated his employment. The other officer, Teresa Evans, has since been promoted to Sergeant.

Public sentiment about the case is mixed. Many are mournful and horrified at how vengefully Dorner turned on his fellow officers, but for an increasing number of Americans, the killer has become something of a folk hero, a man who saw something inherently wrong and addressed the issues in a way so that people could not help but take notice. In his official manifesto that Dorner posted on Facebook to explain his actions, he discussed the institutionalized racism police officers continue to display when enforcing the law. Ironically, in the midst of an all-consuming manhunt to track down Dorner, the LAPD, without warning, opened fire at a pickup truck that in no way matched the description of Dorner’s vehicle. Two Hispanic women who had been delivering newspapers emerged from the truck, and one – 71 year-old Emma Hernandez – had to be taken to the hospital after being shot in the back. Again, if the job of the police is to protect everyday citizens, the lack of restraint shown before firing at two helpless women only strengthens the perception that Dorner’s grievances have merit. At the very least, the LAPD should have checked to see who was in the vehicle and if the vehicle matched the description of Dorner’s. Firing without warning on civilians only reinforces the separation between the police and those whom they are supposed to keep safe.

Christopher Dorner was by no means an innocent man when he was found dead last week. He murdered three people, and admitted that he had no intention of ending his killing spree. Moreover, the circumstances around his dismissal from the LAPD do not suggest racist conduct on the part of the Department, and Dorner’s obvious mental instability no doubt played a large role in his perception of the force. Still, some of the conduct of the LAPD during the manhunt only underscores the existence of prejudice in many police forces. Thankfully, Dorner is no longer a threat to the safety of LAPD officers, but this incident, and particularly the actions of the LAPD during it, should send a signal to police departments nationwide.

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Posted by on Feb 22 2013. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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