Most estimates have former LAPD officer Chris Dorner deceased. The prevailing theory is that he died in the fire in that cabin up in Big Bear, California. While there is still probable suspicion that Dorner may be alive, most news outlets are running with the assumption that he is indeed deceased. While we wait on a final word on the matter , we’re already experiencing debate as to whether he is to be thought of as a hero, or as a villain. Essayist Chauncey DeVega did a great job of exploring that conversation so let’s take this one in another direction.
Once the smoke clears from the specifics of Dorner’s case, the question of the behavior of the LAPD still remains. Sadly there were many who are unfamiliar to the tenuous, at-best, relationship between African-American men and most law enforcement agencies. Whether we call names of Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Timothy Stansbury, Oscar Grant, Adolph Grimes III or the countless other black men murdered by police racism, we can safely deduce, abuse of power by police in minority and poor communities is a serious problem.
What we cannot allow to happen is for our obsession with Dorner and his story to fade away with the passing of information in the news cycle. If the city of Los Angeles is serious about investigating Dorner’s claims as they said, this needs to be a public event with a respectable civilian review board working in collaboration with the police department. Otherwise for many it will look like the blue shield protecting a police department with an extensive history of corruption.
Other communities got a taste of police brutality and excessive force in 2011 during the “Occupy” protest movement. One famous incident involved a campus police officer pepper-spraying students sitting in peaceful protest. Though this resulted in no loss of life, one can only hope this may galvanize other communities to be as alarmed about claims of police brutality and excessive force as African-Americans.
This brings us back to Mr. Dorner. No one, and I mean no one, stands to defend his murdering of innocent people. A violent rampage that penalized people who had nothing to do with an original wrong can and will never be reasonably justified. In that same breath, as we assess his critiques of law enforcement, his words ring remarkably too familiar to black families and other victims alike. So LAPD (and ostensibly law enforcement everywhere) the ball is your court. We conceded Mr. Dorner’s wrongs; what will you say about yours?
Ray Baker is the host of the SiriusXM show “Real Talk with Ray Baker”. He also lectures at colleges and universities across the nation, having spoken at Yale, Duke & Georgetown Universities