When the Christopher Dorner story first broke, my gut sank. Stomach turning, I wondered, what would push a man to promise and carry out murder against police officers and their families?
As the story developed, Dorner’s past as an LAPD officer and former military lieutenant piqued my interest. A sworn protector of the law had gone rogue and decided to take “justice” into his own hands.
Prior to committing his first murders, he left a manifesto to the public. In it, he provided the reason for his plan to commit “asymmetrical warfare” against theLAPD. He pledged to seek out those who had wronged him within the department for what he claims was an improper termination for reporting excessive force used by a training officer.
There is something deeply haunting about Dorner’s manifesto; even more unsettling is the response the killings have received in the court of public opinion, which can be seen online, through responses to the developing story.
Scrolling the response sections of various news sites, I trembled looking at the comments relating to the story. “Dorner is the modern day Django!” one commenter was reported to write in an examiner.com article that collected online comments sympathetic to Dorner’s vigilantism. Dorner’s own words — “I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system betrayed, slandered, and libeled me” — seem to have resonated with many respondents.
Let me be clear: I am no stranger to resentment towards police officers. I grew up in an environment where people were very distrustful of law-enforcement, and have personally had numerous run-ins with police officers where I felt they have abused their power.
But this is no excuse to cheer on the murders and reckless assaults of other human beings. Two of Dorner’s homicidal victims were the daughter and fiancée of an officer who failed to adequately represent Dorner (to his standards) in the unsuccessful appeal of his termination. Is that justice? Is that praise-worthy?
Regardless of the injustice Dorner may or may not have experienced, his response to it is counter-intuitive and selfish. Even if the LAPD is a forum for the abuse of power and police misconduct, seeking vengeance through a homicidal rampage only further supports the necessity to rely on them as agents of protection — or control.
Did Dorner’s actions make anyone safer? No. In fact, because of this manhunt, two innocent women driving a vehicle “similarly described” to Dorner’s were targeted and wrongly shot. Profiling? Perhaps. Necessary action? Definitely not. Before deciding to deem Dorner a vigilante-hero, think about the ripple effect of his actions and any support we lend to them.
Martin Luther King , Jr. once said, “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Regardless of our personal frustrations with institutions of power, such as the police, trying to re-abuse those we feel abused by will rarely promote prominent change; it only maintains the status quo. The frustration Dorner feels with the LAPD may be echoed by many, but the response to it must be different, in order to produce any substantive change.