14.2.13

Christopher Dorner:
The Defector Who Went Out With A Bang

The Revolutionary's Library via Black Agenda Report  (Audio File) | by Glen Ford
The ghost of Nat Turner did not descend on LA over the past week, although lots of Black folks imagined as much. Christopher Dorner’s fans “embraced his death-throe defection from the LAPD, and imbued him with qualities they wish were reliably available to the struggle: a Nat Turner, or a Spook Who Sat By the Door."
"Dorner is best described as a disaffected soldier in the ranks of the U.S. global and local Los Angeles occupation armies, who made his psychological break with the forces of racial oppression – or, was broken by them – only after having first been ejected."


Although his fans will argue otherwise, Christopher Jordan Dorner was neither a Nat Turner nor a Spook Who Sat by the Door.

Nat Turner was a leader of men, who inspired approximately 70 enslaved and free Black men in a glorious attempt to overthrow the slave system in Virginia, in 1831. The rebellion that goes by his name was a collective struggle that shook the slavocracy to its core, and one of the few U.S. slave revolts that was not betrayed by informers. Christopher Dorner enlisted no one in his fatal and solitary vendetta against those he felt had done him personal harm. He died alone trying to hide his huge Black self in a mostly white mountain recreation area, leaving behind a “manifesto” that was mainly about himself and his service to the national and local armed forces.

Chris Dorner was no Dan Freeman, the protagonist “Spook” of the 1973 movie about an urban Black rebellion in the United States. Freeman is a Black nationalist who joins – infiltrates – the CIA, learns all he can about their evil arts, then returns to the Black community to train a cadre of urban guerilla fighters. The war of liberation catches fire. Christopher Dorner’s manifesto reveals a man who – until the unraveling – had been wholly captured by the myth and mystic of superpower America, a proud reserve lieutenant in the imperial Navy and officer in the LAPD who wanted only to serve with personal honor as a man-at-arms.

Dorner is best described as a disaffected soldier in the ranks of the U.S. global and local Los Angeles occupation armies, who made his psychological break with the forces of racial oppression – or, was broken by them – only after having first been ejected. He transformed his ejection into a bloody defection, and flamed out – effectively, a suicide-by-cop (and, almost certainly, a victim of execution by white phosphorous-like incendiary).

His self-definition could not survive separation from the institution that became his personal nemesis. In the end, he was as lonely as Rambo in First Blood, and just as politically lost.

A public death belongs to the public. Dorner’s fans, his African American public, whom he did not serve but who would inevitably embrace his weeklong death-throe defection from the LAPD, imbue him with qualities they wish were reliably available to the struggle: a Nat Turner, a Spook Who Sat by the Door. The Bronx, New York dope dealer, Larry Davis, who in1986 succeeded in shooting six of seven cops who came to his sister’s apartment to arrest or assassinate him, achieved similar fame. Davis eluded capture for 17 days, negotiated a surrender at his public housing hideout as residents chanted "Lar-ry! Lar-ry!" – and beat the charges of attempted murder of cops. (William Kunstler and Lynne Stewart were his lawyers.) His fans forgave Davis’s dope dealing ways, just as Dorner’s fans forgave his previous service to the Los Angeles Occupation Army. 

The enduring lesson of Dorner’s saga is that the transformation of the LAPD into a majority-minority police force does not change its nature as an army of occupation whose mission is racist to the core, regardless of its ethnic composition. That fact finally dawned on Christopher Dorner – and it killed him.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com. 


*BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

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