Killing people is bad. I know this. You know this. We all know this. Christopher Dorner allegedly killed people. That makes what he did bad and, more or less, makes him a bad person. Again, things we all know.
Still, I wanted Dorner to get away yesterday.
If you follow what is affectionately called ‘Black Twitter,’ you would’ve noticed yesterday an outpouring of support for Dorner as he engaged in a shootout with the LAPD and nearly cheated death. The supporters generally fell into two categories: those who don’t trust the media or LAPD spokespeople’s categorization of Dorner’s actions and those who didn’t give a damn what he did and were happy to see the LAPD scared out of their minds.
I don’t know every Black person on Twitter personally, but I’ll venture to guess they’re not all horrible people. Yet, there they were rooting for a guy who may or may not have killed in cold blood. And as much as I would like to chastise them for cheering Dorner on, I can’t honestly say I wasn’t deep down hoping Dorner would escape. I’m also having difficulty reconciling with the sense of pride I felt, being inspired by someone taking the fight directly to the LAPD. I shouldn’t be applauding a guy out shooting cops. Neither should you. But we did.
And therein lies the state of race relations in America.
I know plenty of cops who are admirable people. As a kid, the father of my best friend was a police officer. I know there are great cops out there saving lives while risking their own daily. But I also can honestly say I’ve never had an on-duty police officer have any remotely positive impact on my life.
As the drama of Dorner in Big Bear unfolded, I found myself reflecting on every encounter I’d had with law enforcement. The cop who pulled me over when I was 17, called me an idiot and threatened to impound my car even though I hadn’t done anything wrong. The time I got pulled over twice in 12 hours for an expired tag when my dad had been driving around in the same vehicle completely unimpeded for eight months prior. My mind went back to last year when I got pulled over and harassed in front of my own house. These are just some of many countless other incidents, none pleasant. And these are my stories alone.
Every new update on Dorner felt like retaliation against those crooked sons of bitches who terrorized me from the moment I was told to “get the hell out of” some tennis courts in the apartment complex next to mine when I was 12. Now, multiply my anger times the millions of people who grew up on he wrong end of an unlawful stop or unprompted beat down. Think of Oscar Grant’s family. Think of Sean Bell’s family. Think of Voletta Wallace, who watches her son’s death go unsolved and questions unanswered thanks to crooked men in the same LAPD under fire today.
In 2011, more Black men were pulled over than the actual population of Black men in New York, meaning some if not most got pulled over multiple times. Now you’ll understand why so many in a community were enraged to the point where they would overlook Dorner reportedly committing murder, choosing instead to cheer him for lashing back at the same LAPD that has tried to ruin and sometimes ended the lives of Black men with little or no repercussion, shielded behind the Blue Wall.
That’s what we should take home from all of this. Dorner may be gone, but for a small time he exposed just how deep-rooted and volatile the Black male’s relationship with law enforcement is. No matter how wrong I may think Dorner is, he became more than a criminal. He became all of us striking back at an ever-present reality of police brutality in America.
When JFK was assassinated, Malcolm X said it was “chickens coming home to roost” in America. I can’t help but feel the same way; like innocent people are getting hurt for the sins of a few horrible cops. But if America can’t see the events of the past 10 days and understand just how much hatred resides here for the LAPD and the boys in blue, maybe it can take the steps to ensure we don’t celebrate the next time a personal anti-LAPD jihad goes into effect.