Friday, February 08, 2013

George Ciccariello-Maher and Mike King: American Blowback - Cop-on-Cop Crime in LA

[Finally a breath of sanity in the media hysteria surrounding the manhunt for Christopher Dorner in California and an unique application of Frantz Fanon's theories to the policing of South Central Los Angeles.]

American Blowback: Cop-on-Cop Crime in LA
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 “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,” 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.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

More resources:

Huffington Post: LAPD, Torrance Police Shot At Innocent People In Frenzied Hunt For Former Cop Christopher Dorner

Cato Institute: National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

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