Christopher Dorner and the Chaos Inherent to Government (Jason Lee Byas)
Friday February 15th, 2013
LAPD officer Christopher Dorner's killings and the manhunt that they sparked left Angelenos in a state of terror. Innocent people were, wounded, or psychologically traumatized as a result of Dorner’s actions and those of his former fellow officers. These tragedies were not random flukes. They were a direct result of political government, its monopoly on “legitimate” violence, and the psychology of entitlement bred by its authority.
Maggie Carranza, 47, and her 71-year-old mother Emma Hernandez were delivering newspapers in a truck not even the same color as Dorner's when LAPD officers shot Hernandez in the back, hospitalizing her. Though Carranza was not hit by gunfire, she was wounded by shattered glass from the windshield. According to their attorney, “There was no warning. There were no orders. No commands. Just gunshots.”
Soon afterward in Torrance, California, resident David Perdue met a similar unannounced hail of bullets from his own city's police department. While he emerged physically uninjured, he likely won't look back on the incident as just another day. The psychological trauma is unimaginable.
Luckily for southern California drivers, Dorner's truck was discovered burning near Bear Mountain. One wonders just how many more innocent people might have been fired upon had his vehicle not been found.
The LAPD and surrounding police departments were out in full force, their penchant for unleashing deadly violence without warning on no more basis than a hunch on open display. In truly military fashion, police even unleashed a surveillance drone as part of the search. Understandably, many felt unsafe.
And for what? While bringing Dorner in — or down — was clearly a priority, the way in which he was pursued, the pile of resources devoted to his capture, and the unprovoked violence inflicted on civilians made it clear that that priority wasn’t rooted in publicly safety.
Consider this in the context of the 6,000 word manifesto released by Dorner concerning corruption among his fellow officers. It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that police diverted a disproportionate amount of resources, and more importantly, waged total war on the citizens of California, to settle a personal and political score.
The pursuit was gang warfare writ large, made possible only by the territorial monopolies LAPD and other police forces maintain on “legitimate” violence, and the funding they extract forcibly from the citizens they claim to protect and serve.
They do not function as legal equals of the civilians they endanger They know they will never be held fully accountable for their actions, or pay the full costs of whatever damage they do, or of the resources they call upon to do it. The horrifying spectacle they created was made possible (and inevitable) by political government.
Chris Dorner's murders should obviously disgust everyone, and his psychological sense of entitlement to do violence at will was contemptible. It would be just as contemptible, though, if he still had the badge that gave him that sense of entitlement in the first place.
The LAPD and other police forces should do everything in their power to make sure this never happens again. The logical first step toward that goal is their immediate disbandment.
Jason Lee Byas is a philosophy senior at the University of Oklahoma, where he has written opinion columns for its independent student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily, since fall 2011. Follow him on Twitter: @jasonleebyas