Saturday, February 16, 2013

the execution of christopher dorner



counterpunch | If the murder of Oscar Grant on an Oakland transit platform marked the dawn of the Obama era, the cold-blooded murder of former Naval reservist and Los Angeles Police officer Christopher Dorner might just mark the end of whatever optimistic hope people can muster in his administration. Whether an innocent young man just trying to get home, shot in the back after being racially profiled and slurred, or a man driven to his breaking point after being fired from a similar police force that operates according to its own warped morality and overarching objectives, the state of the union is a powder keg whose wick has gotten shorter due to decades of looking the other way.

Just minutes before Barack Obama began his state of the union address, San Bernardino County Sheriffs, knowing full well what they were doing, burned Christopher Dorner to death. From police brutality and racism to political unaccountability, from lack of economic opportunities to the extrajudicial murder of anyone deemed an enemy of the state, Dorner’s life and death offers us a much clearer picture of the state of this union than last night’s speech or media commentary.

In the years between the murder of Oscar Grant and Dorner’s last stand, March of 2009 to be specific, we were among those observing the case of Lovelle Mixon in Oakland, a parolee who decided he was not going to return to prison, opening fire on police at a traffic stop, killing two. Police went in to execute Mixon, not expecting that he would be holding an SKS. Two more cops died as a result. The logic of Dorner’s desperation, and the chain of events that led to his ultimate death, parallels Mixon’s; proud men without hope, cornered, deciding to go out fighting.

Neither man was a self-understood revolutionary and it would be inaccurate (or perhaps too accurate a reflection of the dearth of revolutionary activity in contemporary society) to try and declare otherwise. However, the material conditions that produced Dorner, as with Mixon, are not uncommon. The meaning and the effects of their actions speak volumes about the depth of racialization, criminalization and hopelessness in Obama’s supposed “post-racial” America.