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Rogue Cop on the Lam Becomes Folk Hero to Some: LAPD Appears to Want Dorner Dead, not Captured and Talking

Police helicopters also used to tail me -- then an editor of an alternative news weekly, the L.A. Vanguard -- and my wife, a music graduate student, as we drove home at night. Sometimes, they would follow us from our car to front door with a brilliant spotlight, when we’d come home at night to our house in Echo Park. It was an act of deliberate intimidation. (They also infiltrated our newspaper with an undercover cop posing as a wannabe journalist. Her job, we later learned, was to learn who our sources were inside the LAPD -- sources who had disclosed such things as that the LAPD had, and probably still has, a “shoot-to-kill” policy for police who fire their weapons.) The LAPD brass were really angry at us for being first to expose their rampant shooting and killing of unarmed residents--a story that later got picked up by the LA Times and some of the local electronic news media.

Friends in Los Angeles tell me nothing has changed about the LAPD, though of course the police weaponry has gotten heavier and their surveillance capabilities have gotten more sophisticated and invasive.

It is clear from the LAPD’s paramilitary response to the Occupy movement in Los Angeles, which included planting undercover cops among the occupiers, some of whom reportedly were agents provocateur who tried to encourage protesters to commit acts of violence, and which ended with police violence and gratuitous arrests, as in New York, that nothing has changed.

In other words, Dorner may be irrational, but he ain’t crazy. And his “army-of-one” campaign against the LAPD has already scored one success, as the department’s chief announced that he is going to re-examine the hearing that led to Dorner’s dismissal from the department to see if it had been fairly and properly handled.

A black military veteran, Dorner joined the police because he reportedly believed in service. Unable to go along with the militarist policing he saw on the job, and the racism all around him, he protested through channels and was apparently rewarded by being fired. Now, in his own violent way, he is trying to warn us all that something is rotten in the LAPD, and by extension, in the whole police system in the US. Police departments almost everywhere in the US, have morphed, particularly since 9/11/2001, from a role of providing public safety and law enforcement into agencies of brutal fascist control, often using the LAPD's paramilitary model to work from.

As Dorner says in his lengthy manifesto (actually quite explicit and literate, but described as “ranting” in corporate media accounts), in which he explains his actions and indicts the LAPD, “The enemy combatants in LA are not the citizens and suspects, it’s the police officers.”

That could be said of many US police departments, I’m afraid.

Example: Last fall, I had the experience of trying to hitchhike in my little suburban town. A young cop drove up and informed me (incorrectly, it turns out) that it was illegal to hitchhike in Pennsylvania. When I expressed surprise at this and told him I was a journalist working on an article on hitchhiking, he then threatened me directly, saying that if I continued to try and thumb a ride, he would “take you in and lock you up.”


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