February 17, 2013

I Am Christopher Dorner

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I am not here to justify Christopher Dorner’s actions. Instead, I’m trying to share the other story. The part we might not be hearing when we watch the news or read the paper. The attempts to discredit a man who did all of this just to have his named cleared is incredibly twisted. We say we are fearful of violence, yet we support a president that sides with Israel, that says he’s against gun violence yet hasn’t done a whole lot to make significant changes in the United States. We read one, two stories from our favorite news source and we call it a day, but what happens when we dig a little deeper?

I want to thank my friend for bringing this to my attention. My friend used to be in the armed forces, and did two tours in Iraq. Said friend trained SWAT teams on how to handle situations like Christopher Dorner’s, and I hold this person’s opinion on this matter in the highest regard as I write this. When my friend, who believes in our armed forces and our police force, tells me that they believe all of this could have been avoided and the way that Dorner’s story has been told isn’t right, I take that seriously. I hope you all will, too.

Christopher Dorner murdered four people in (what he said was) the name of justice. He was pronounced dead, body identified in a burned cabin. It’s being reported that he shot himself in the head one time. The police in Big Bear asked the media to not fly helicopters overhead of the cabin, in fear that Dorner had a television and could see what was happening. The police knew that Dorner did not have a television in there, and the SWAT team on site knew what they were doing when they set fire to his cabin. Dorner had been fighting, exhaustively, to clear his name since 2008 from being relieved of his duties with the LAPD after filing a false report that his supervisory officer kicked a mentally disabled man three times outside of a DoubleTree hotel in San Pedro, CA. He had attempted to clear the “bully” image that was given to him by the LAPD, possibly not knowing to what extent the media would paint him in – much worse than a bully, as we have seen. Currently, the media is telling us this is a “case closed,” as Dorner is dead.

My professor in nonviolent social change told me that she really didn’t think Dorner would be killed. A big fat trial, his face plastered everywhere as the posterboy for all things horrific and violent, yes. Killed? No way. Yet, as the cabin burned, she thought to herself “Of course they would kill him.” Why? And why would the media tell us that he shot himself? Is that not an interesting view? As I stated before, my friend trained SWAT teams for situations like this. My friend said the description given to us is false: the “burners” of tear gas on site could not have done that damage unless the building was filled with crumpled-up paper to the ceiling. The cabin burning was no accident, and there were no news teams there to cover it since they were told to leave in case Dorner had a television (as if that would have changed anything).

I read through Dorner’s manifesto. Though it gets a little messy at the end, I think that it shows he knew he was going to die. He wanted his thoughts to be known, and overall for his name to be cleared. The beginning explains his trial: his case against his former field training officer, Teresa Evans, was dismissed as false statement. He stated that she kicked a man three times, which was deemed unnecessary. His case was heard by a board that consisted of two people who were close personal friends of Evans, making it seemingly difficult to stand a fair trial (and not really helping the whole “we’re-not-crooked-cops” story that the LAPD gives us).

As I stated above, I don’t agree with Dorner’s use of violence. Yet, I study the use of violence and nonviolence in our society, and I hate to admit that except for the rare case (ACT UP being the largest, Arab Spring in more recent days), many points are not made as a definite against a bad regime unless violence is used as the main tactic. It’s the attention-getter that we just can’t ignore. For example, large-scale, we see Israel-Palestine: Israel uses some pretty brute force against Palestinian people, who have been incredibly peaceful in response for the most part. But, when the Palestinian people respond with even the threat of violence, Israel calls for a cease-fire. The violence is not equal until it is, and when it is, it seems to come to an end. Quickly. What Dorner did was a disaster, and I’m not disputing the fact that I will always stand on the side of active nonviolence; but I can’t say that I don’t have at least an understanding of why he felt like he needed to act. He had gone through what we deem as the appropriate means to clear his name, and the system failed him. Nobody was listening to him, and he felt like he needed to get the attention of the American people to see the injustice in our police system.

I am Christopher Dorner, in this instance. Again, I would not murder someone, but I do understand that to be an advocate of active nonviolence and resistance (which is not a pacifist, mind you), I need to understand what violence is. As MLK has stated, until I can understand violence as a person who holds a gun and will hurt another, I cannot begin to practice nonviolence. Christopher Dorner understood violence. Christopher Dorner understood injustice. Christopher Dorner was given the short end of the stick; Christopher Dorner could no longer hold on to the stick, slippery with hate and lies. Christopher Dorner reacted in a way that has grasped the nation’s attention, but it’s our turn to decide what we do with it. Do we drop it, say he was a cop-killing nutjob? Or do we investigate the claims he was making and see that by the LAPD admitting wrongdoing, this entire fiasco could have been avoided? When will we understand that injustice to one person can result in injustice for many? I am Christopher Dorner. I believe it’s time to take a closer look at the injustices, here and abroad. TC mark