Dorner’s death raises new social questions

Christopher Dorner, the former LAPD officer accused of murdering retired police captain Randal Quan’s daughter, Monica Quan and her fiancé, Keith Lawrence, was confirmed to have died  in a cabin in Big Bear, CA.

A fire was started in the cabin on Tuesday presumably when police officers threw tear gas grenades inside. CNN reported on Friday that he remains of a body found inside were confirmed to be those of Dorner by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Dorner’s manifesto has received large amounts of attention and is available in its entirety on ktla.com. The case has caused controversy in regards to the treatment of Dorner and whether or not he was justified in his beliefs and actions.

In his manifesto, he claimed that the LAPD “has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse.” He believed he has been fired from the department for reporting the use of excessive force by a fellow officer. This event triggered him to write his manifesto, revealing what he saw as the problems not only in the LAPD, but society in general.

What Dorner’s case has revealed is that many people supported him and saw him as a voice reason, even though he committed blatant acts of violence. On the other hand, there are also individuals who believe he was an insane murderer.

It is this rift that is perhaps the most important aspect of the events surrounding Christopher Dorner. When you look beyond the simple question of whether or not he was innocent, or a target of the LAPD, it becomes clear that it is necessary to analyze the nation’s response to Dorner’s actions, and why it is that so many people supported him.

What it all seems to boil down to is empathy. Dorner made it quite clear in his manifesto that he saw himself as a victim of an inherently corrupt and racist department. To many people this seems absurd because it is nice to believe that corruption and racism no longer exist.

A distinction needs to be made between condoning Dorner’s actions and trying to understand his perspective. Whenever an individual like Dorner comes along, we need to evaluate the social circumstances that are taking place.

The fact is that many minority people in Los Angeles still feel victimized or targeted by the police department, so it is no surprise that when someone writes an entire manifesto confirming these feelings, he would be supported.

I cannot say that I have ever witnessed police brutality or have been a victim of it, but there are still people who have. A fundamental mistrust of an institution such as the LAPD by the people they are sworn to protect would be a cause for concern in any society.

Again, there is a fine line between condoning murder and trying to understand the reasons behind murder. Why is it that so many people were and are still willing to raise Dorner, who committed acts of extreme violence, to the status of a reasonable or even heroic individual? This is perhaps the most fundamental questions regarding all of these events.

Now that Dorner has been confirmed deceased,  we must as a society evaluate and objectively observe the societal implications not only of Dorner’s actions, but of the reactions to those actions.

I do not in any way believe that Dorner was justified in committing murder, but I do believe it is important to try and understand why so many people, even people who have never been victims of police brutality, felt that he was.

There is no question that Dorner’s actions were horrific, but it is important to keep in mind the implications of the responses that were supportive of him. They have highlighted a problem in our society regarding the fundamental and ever-growing mistrust of authority.

Perhaps Christopher Dorner did have an important message for society, however his clouded judgment has left it up to us to decipher the importance of his message.