Feb 18, 2013
In the middle of its manhunt for Christopher Dorner, a black former cop who had snapped and gone on a vengeful murder spree, the Los Angeles Police Department announced that it was officially re-examining the reasons why it had fired Dorner back in 2009.
Sure, this was a token gesture. But it was not what one expects from the LAPD, especially not when it was hunting for someone who had declared war on it and was killing innocent people. But this token gesture was a recognition by the LAPD heads of the public anger and distrust of the department. Sandy Banks, a Los Angeles Times columnist, wrote that even where she lives, the middle class suburban community of Northridge, people expressed greater fear of the LAPD than of Chris Dorner.
Few believed the LAPD when they tried to dismiss Dorner’s charges of LAPD racism and brutality as the ravings of a lunatic. After all, right after Dorner’s manifesto appeared on Facebook, LA cops shot and wounded two people – a middle-aged Hispanic woman and her 71-year-old mother delivering newspapers. Police riddled their truck and the surrounding cars and houses with gunfire, saying they thought it was Dorner’s truck. The truck was neither the color nor the make of Dorner’s truck. Shortly afterwards, LA cops rammed another truck of a very different make and color than Dorner’s, this time injuring a slim white man.
Over the last 20 years, following the Rodney King riots and the Ramparts corruption scandals, Los Angeles officials have regularly claimed that their police force was being reformed – that it was no longer the same overtly brutal and racist army of occupation in the large poor and working class neighborhoods. They say they had hired more “minorities,” and that the cops now have to go through “diversity training.”
But in no way did the cop violence end, as the videos of cop beatings of ordinary people that appear regularly on YouTube show. Only a few months ago, five cops beat to death Alesia Thomas, an unarmed black 35-year-old mother of two.
Neither did the racism inside the department against black cops end, especially when they reported the ongoing violence and racism of many of the police.
Brian Bentley, who had been in the LAPD for 10 years, described how black cops were regularly belittled, harassed, threatened and forced to shut up about what they witnessed. Anyone who tried to play the role of whistle-blower, like Dorner, was run out of the department.
If the police themselves go through this, what does it say about the violence the population faces at the hands of LA police?
No, the LAPD hasn’t reformed. It is still the same brutal army occupying poor and working class neighborhoods it has always been.