Former Marine and LAPD officer Chris Dorner promised to wage “unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” against his former employer in his bizarre manifesto. Five days into Dorner’s declaration of war against the LAPD, starting with murdering the 28 year-old daughter of a police officer and her fiancé, it appears Dorner has made good on that threat as there has been little “conventional” in the reaction to his crimes.
If Dorner believed that gunning down two innocent people, and two other police officers, would result in greater scrutiny of the LAPD, it was a bloody gamble that’s paid off. In a matter of days, the LAPD has gone from dismissing Dorner’s account of the reasons behind his firing to re-opening the investigation. LA Police Chief Charlie Beck denied the move was an attempt to “appease” Dorner. It’s more likely an attempt to appease the public amid an ever-growing series of errors in the Dorner manhunt.
Who might have guessed that the LAPD would be Dorner’s biggest ally in his murderous attempt to move public opinion? Thus far, the LAPD has managed to shoot one older woman in the back, terrify her daughter, and shoot at a thin white man in a supposed case of mistaken identity with a large black man. Much was made in the media of Dorner’s military experience as a rationale for why authorities have been unable to find him in the resort community of Big Bear, where Dorner is said to be hiding. But there’s little rationale for a trigger-happy police force that seems to be playing right into Dorner’s hands.
And Dorner most certainly seems to have some sense of the media impact of his actions. Writing in his
manifesto screed, Dorner claimed:
“The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse,” Dorner wrote. “I know I will be vilified by the LAPD and the media. Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name.”
Apparently part of the “necessary evil” was taunting Monica Quan’s father Randall with a phone call in which he said Quan “should have done a better job of protecting his daughter.” Don’t worry, Dorner didn’t “enjoy” that.
What Dorner might have had a harder time anticipating was a vocal minority insistent on turning him into a folk hero:
Supporters of Christopher Dorner, the former LA policeman turned “cop killer,” have shown up online, with tweets and fan pages on Facebook. Some call Dorner a “hero” for writing a nine-page manifesto alleged on racism and corruption within the LAPD.
Numerous supporters on Twitter are calling the alleged murderer a “Dark Knight.”One Facebook page calls him “the hero LA deserves, but not the one it needs right now … He’s a silent guardian, watchful protector against corruption, he’s our Dark Knight.”
There’s even a “I support Christopher Jordan Dorner” Facebook page with over 7,000 “likes.” The page’s creator is already promising “t-shirts, buttons, stickers + bumper stickers” because nothing says respectful, intellectual debate like mass marketing a psychopath. Hey, it worked for Che Guevara.
If Dorner really was the “whistleblower” he wants to define himself as, there were a myriad of ways for him to get his message out other than with a gun. But his entire narrative of the LAPD is at odds with perception of the department. After the disgrace of the Rampart scandal in the late 90s, where 70 officers were implicated in misconduct with a gang strike force, the LAPD has seen a surge in popularity. A 2009 poll put the LAPD at a nearly 80% approval rating.
Most of Dorner’s criticisms of the department aren’t exactly Serpico-level indictments, but rather tales of harassment and bureaucratic lethargy. Hardly grounds for a killing spree. Unless, of course, Dorner isn’t the “Dark Knight” wish fulfillment figure for some in Southern California but at heart just a deranged, vengeful man.