Disgraced ex-LAPD cop Christopher Dorner has been described by police and experts as a delusional and perhaps even psychopathic killer.
But in the African American community he's often viewed in a different light — as a victim of racism who became unhinged only after exhausting legitimate avenues to fight the good fight against his firing. Some are even calling him a hero.
How can distinct communities view a man so differently?
On Twitter some people expressed support for Dorner and his anti-police reign of terror. One user said this:
God bless you Chris #Dorner Stay safe, we believe you.
Dorner was fired by the department in 2008 for allegedly lying when he said his training officer kicked a suspect in the head. He fought the action and took the department to court, only to lose.
In his alleged manifesto, Dorner mentions racism four times and points to his background as an integral part of his case. One passage states:
Terminating officers because they expose a culture of lying, racism (from the academy), and excessive use of force will immediately change. PSB [Public Safety Bureau] can not police their own and that has been proven. The blue line will forever be severed and a cultural change will be implanted. You have awoken a sleeping giant.
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 compasses to true north.
Those Caucasian officers who join South Bureau divisions (77th,SW,SE, an Harbor) with the sole intent to victimize minorities who are uneducated, and unaware of criminal law, civil law, and civil rights. You prefer the South bureau because a use of force/deadly force is likely and the individual you use UOF [use of force] on will likely not report it.
It goes on to single out even African American officers who, the manifesto argues, “perpetuated the cycle of racism in the department as well. You breed a new generation of bigoted caucasian officer when you belittle them and treat them unfairly.”
The document alleges that some Latino officers “victimize their own ethnicity” because recent immigrants don't know their rights.
“I'm not surprised,” he says, “that Dorner would emerge almost as a folk hero, a perverse Robinhood.”
Some people are saying he's exposing a brutal truth about the LAPD — that there's a history there that this guy was a part of and that he was even victimized by uncovering abuse and bringing it out and paying the price for it.
There's always antagonism toward the LAPD in the community.
Hutchinson thinks the department has changed for the better since the 1980s and '90s. He cites officer discipline, community outreach, fewer deadly officer-involved shootings, and a more diverse force (the LAPD is now so-called majority minority).
But Hutchinson says he's also disturbed by a string of use-of-force incidents last year caught on tape, including one in which a South L.A. mother, kicked in the crotch by an officer, died.
“They still have a ways to go,” he says. “I think this is a wake-up call.”
Despite the best efforts of the department to improve its operations and image, I still think it would behoove the department to take a close look at this to see if there's any truth to it [the manifesto] and take proper steps to address problems he alleges still exist in the police department.
Political commentator Jasmyne Cannick says she believes the allegations in the Dorner document, telling the Weekly:
I read that manifesto. I just think he's telling the truth. I think a lot of people black and white think he's telling the truth … I wouldn't go so far as to say he's a hero. He's taken people's lives. That isn't right. But people have a breaking point.
Cannick, whose mother worked at the department, acknowledges that the LAPD has changed for the better since the days of the riots and the Rampart Scandal. But she says she hopes the department takes Doroner's allegations seriously.
A lot of that manifesto is about racial injustice. The LAPD continually talks about how it's a new day. This is an opportunity to test the theory that it's a new day at the LAPD.
Tomorrow at noon Hutchinson will discuss Dorner and race on KPFK (90.7 FM).