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13-02-13 The Execution of Christopher Dorner: The State of the Union Admidst the Ashes of Extra-judicial Death

13-02-13 The Execution of Christopher Dorner: The State of the Union Admidst the Ashes of Extra-judicial Death

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Published by William J Greenberg
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
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

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Published by: William J Greenberg on Mar 04, 2013
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FEBRUARY 13, 2013
The State of the Union Amidst the Ashes of Extrajudicial Death
The Execution of Christopher Dorner
by GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER and MIKE KINGIf the murder of Oscar Grant on an Oakland transit platform marked the dawn of theObama era, the cold-blooded murder of former Naval reservist and Los AngelesPolice officer Christopher Dorner might just mark the end of whatever optimistichope people can muster in his administration. Whether an innocent young man justtrying to get home, shot in the back after being racially profiled and slurred, or aman driven to his breaking point after being fired from a similar police force thatoperates according to its own warped morality and overarching objectives, the stateof 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, SanBernardino County Sheriffs, knowing full well what they were doing, burnedChristopher Dorner to death. From police brutality and racism to politicalunaccountability, 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 muchclearer picture of the state of this union than last night’s speech or mediacommentary.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 MixoninOakland, a parolee who decided he was not going to return to prison, opening fireon police at a traffic stop, killing two. Police went in to execute Mixon, not expectingthat 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 (orperhaps too accurate a reflection of the dearth of revolutionary activity incontemporary society) to try and declare otherwise. However, the materialconditions that produced Dorner, as with Mixon, are not uncommon. The meaningand the effects of their actions speak volumes about the depth of racialization,criminalization and hopelessness in Obama’s supposed “post-racial” America.
LAPD Endgame: Street Justice on a Snow-Capped Mountain
 
 The scene could not be more surreal: the remains of a cabin south of Big Bear stillsmoldering, the President delivered his State of the Union Address. To be fair, theyhad yet to confirm that the person they were incinerating in a cabin near Big Bearactually
was
Dorner. Earlier in the day, San Bernardino County Sheriffs received acall reporting a stolen vehicle driven by someone matching a description of Dorner.If the experience of the past five days is any indication, this narrowed it down toBlack men, Asian women, and skinny white men. The $1 million dollar rewardoffered for information leading to Dorner’s capture or death, also offered ameasurable rubric for the value of the lives of police officers, as traditionallyrewards in homicide cases are closer to $20,000.In the gathering of hurried interviews some interesting truths from the public madeit into the TV news. An MSNBC reporter asked a witness: “Where you worried whenyou learned that Christopher Dorner was so close to your house?” But the witnessresponded “Actually, I was just afraid of the cops.” Given the unrestrained violenceunleashed in recent days by the LAPD, this sentiment is perhaps unsurprising, butdemonstrating a degree of hubris matched only by an utter absence of ironicintent,LAPD chief Charlie Beck said, evidently with a straight face, “To be targetedbecause of what you are… that is absolutely terrifying.” To whichmany nationwiderespondedwith an audible guffaw:
welcome to the club
.An interview with the man who was allegedly carjacked by Dorner said that, whilepolice had told the man not to tell the whole story, he reported that Dorner hadsimply said “I don’t want to hurt, take your dog and go.” When sheriff’s deputiesfound the vehicle yesterday, the driver allegedly retreated into a cabin, at one pointre-emerging amid the smoke of a diversionary device to exchange more than 100rounds of fire with deputies. Two police were injured, with one later dying. Policequickly established a large perimeter, closing highways around Seven Oaks, southof Big Bear up to twenty miles away.Establishing the perimeter also seemed to mean keeping the media at an arm’slength. While press helicopters had been providing live shots of the cabin in whichDorner was allegedly holed-up, the SBSD quickly requested that media withdraw toroadblocks miles away and that news choppers cease to transmit live video for fearof providing strategic information to Dorner himself. The San Bernardino Sheriff’sDepartment requestedthat media outlets and individuals cease and desist fromeven tweeting about the manhunt and shootout.Even more astonishing than the request was the immediate compliance: pressoutlets abruptly ceased to tweet about the developing story, and duly retreating tothe roadblocks, abandoned their task of reporting the news and waited for it to befed to them. To paraphrase but one of many incredulous observers, we speak of press blackouts in China, but all the police had to do here was ask nicely and thepress complied without batting an eyelash.
 
With a voluntary media blackout in effect, the Twittersphere, punctuated with aplethora of indignant and sharply worded refusals to comply with the police,became one of the only sources of developing news. What we know about whathappened thereafter owes almost entirely to those who scoured the web forscanner feeds from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department and intently followedthe story these feeds told.
“The Burn Plan”
Shortly after 4pm Pacific Standard Time, the cabin was engulfed in flames, with CNNhelicopters broadcasting plumes of black smoke from a distance of five miles. Asingle gunshot is reported from within the house. A narrative quickly emergedamong the mainstream media, which we should recall was conspicuously absentfrom the scene, that police agencies had only deployed tear gas, and that perhapsDorner himself had set the fire. Soon, what seems to be a cache of ammunition isexploding sporadically.But for those of us listening to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department radiofrequency, there was little question what had occurred. Nearly a half hour prior,officers had referred to “going ahead with the plan with the burner,” with anotheradding that the plan was to “back the Bear down and deploy the burner through theturret.” (Live audio during the preceding shootoutseems to confirm this intention).Soon, the message was straightforward and expected: “Seven burners havedeployed and we have a fire.” No surprised tones, no suggestion that the fire beextinguished.In fact, there was the exact opposite: a female voice on the scanner repeatedly asksif the fire crews should be allowed to approach, and is told that it’s not time yet,that we need to wait until all four corners are engulfed, then that we need to waituntil the roof collapses. At one particularly repulsive point, those on the scenerealize that the house has a basement, and an authoritative male voice indicatesthat the fire crew would not be called until the fire had “burned through thebasement.” They were going to let him die.References to the 1993 massacre at Waco, Texas, the murderous 1985 bombing of the MOVE Organization in Philadelphia were immediate, and will serve as opposingframes for Dorner’s death in the days and weeks to come.A murder? An assassination? A lynching? An execution.
State of the Union: Flammable
 This is a day of a million possible metaphors, but central among these should be theimage of the burning house. In an effort to distinguish what he called the “housenegro” from the “field negro,” Malcolm X had once observed that the tworesponded differently when the master’s house caught fire: “But that field negro,

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