The Dorner Controversy Continues

The Outrage of Police Repression, the Reality of Dictatorship... and the Need for Revolution

February 24, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


During the last two weeks, the whole country was riveted to the events playing out in Southern California around Christopher Dorner. These events included the LAPD’s biggest manhunt ever, which came to a climax with the incineration of Dorner in a cabin while surrounded by police. The TV networks even split-screened this with preparation for Obama’s State of the Union speech.

But the controversy has not yet been quieted—and it SHOULD NOT BE.

Through this controversy, two very ugly truths about America have once again forced their way to the surface. The first truth: that for all the talk—and all the lies—the oppression of Black people, and other people of color, is FAR from over; on the contrary, it still festers and rages in different forms. The second truth: that for all the elections and endless campaigning and everything else, those who really rule this society exercise dictatorship.

In this article, we’re going to talk about both these truths. We’re going to get into the discussion and debate that has been raging around these two truths. And we’re going to talk about a third truth as well, one that is not ugly but a fact of great hope—one that has not come to the surface, but needs to: the truth that all this can only be dealt with by revolution, and that it is in fact possible to make such a revolution.

What Does It Tell You?

Let’s start with something very basic. What does it tell you that someone like this, who was “on the inside” and part of the machinery of the LAPD, considered the problem of racist brutality and corruption on the part of the LAPD so intolerable that he was driven to such extremes? What does it tell you that this person, who cited things like the Rodney King beating and the Rampart scandal [see box], said that things have not gotten better, or may have even gotten worse, since then? Does this not speak to the reality of the racist and murderous brutality of the police and the whole apparatus of repression of this system? Does this not serve to remind us how widespread, continual, and systematic this is?

Devin Brown

Protest in 2005 against the LA police murder of 13-year-old Devin Brown. Photo: AP

The questions answer themselves. And here’s another thing to reflect on: what does it tell you that hundreds and thousands of people have felt compelled to rush into print to tell their stories backing up and deepening those charges? What does it mean when lawyers, professors, writers, and other commentators feel compelled to point to the same truths these hundreds and thousands are giving voice to? What does it mean when the LA Times feels compelled to report that as of Saturday they have received nearly 200 letters about this with “the primary target for criticism” being the LA Police Department, while only “a handful of readers spoke up in defense of the police”? And what does it say when people refuse to shut up even when what used to be called “responsible Negro leaders” and “responsible Negro voices” have told everybody to quiet down?

It tells you just how deep this oppression runs. It bears out that for all the talk of progress, there is today a vicious new twist in the knots of oppression: the NEW Jim Crow, a system of police brutality and murder, wholesale criminalization and mass incarceration, and legalized discrimination.

And this is not simply a particular feature of the LAPD. Go anywhere in America and you will learn that this marks the police and the “injustice system” in the country as a whole, in the service of a brutally oppressive system, a system which has white supremacy built into its very foundation and structure.

As Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has said:

“The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.” (BAsics 1:24)

Think about that last line: “The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and order that enforces all this oppression and madness.”

“Responsible Negro Puppets and Mouthpieces”

We’re going to come back to that point. But first we want to speak to some of the people who have rushed into print to hush it up and seal it up and shove what is coming to light back into the dark. Let’s take Connie Rice—who at one time was a critic of the police, but has lately worked closely with the police chiefs to “create a new culture.” These chiefs include William Bratton, who specializes in the racial profiling program known as stop-and-frisk.

Occupy LA

Los Angeles police attack Occupy LA activists at Art Walk, 2012. Photo: AP

Connie Rice, a prominent civil rights attorney in Los Angeles, starts her LA Times article, “Dorner’s LAPD Is On the Way Out” (February 9, 2013), by saying that it is important to acknowledge the history of the LAPD—but only in order to overcome the “disturbing support” that Dorner’s accusations received “from the Black community on the Internet and on black radio.” Rice talks about how Black officers now face an easier time in the department, and then asserts, with no evidence whatsoever, that it is “absolutely wrong” to say that the department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days.

Really?!? Let’s start with this: between 2007 and 2011, police in LA County killed 159 people. Let’s go from there to the “gang injunctions” that target Black and Latino youth and put them by the thousands and tens of thousands into the Jim Crow pipeline to prison. Let’s remember Manuel Jamines, a 37-year-old immigrant from Guatemala, shot in the head by police only 40 seconds after they confronted him. Let’s talk about the vicious repression of the political protesters of Occupy LA, shot with rubber bullets for writing with chalk during a downtown Art Walk. What about the LAPD military-style execution just last October of 23-year-old Kennedy Garcia, shot in the back as he lay cuffed on the ground on his stomach—for the crime of graffiti writing while Latino? What about Devin Brown, shot and killed by the LAPD as he sat behind the wheel of a car—Devin Brown who was 13 years old when the “reformed” LAPD took his life? And by the way, the “enlightened” Bratton stood by those pigs. What about the totally unprovoked and brutal LAPD attack on the mainly Latino May Day 2007 march demanding changes in immigration laws? What about the two Latina women shot by the LAPD for driving a pickup truck that they “thought” matched the description of Dorner’s (it didn’t, by the way)?

And it’s not just individual stories, important as they are. A 2008 study of the LAPD by Ian Ayres, a Yale Law School economist, found that Black people driving cars were nearly three times more likely to be stopped than white and other “non-minority” residents. “These stark statistics...give a numeric lens for the lived experience of ‘driving while Black’ or ‘driving while Hispanic.’”

Connie Rice says the good guys are in charge now. They may be slicker, but they are no more “good guys” than the openly racist rednecks who used to run the LAPD. So, no, Connie Rice—things have NOT changed in any kind of fundamental way. And no, to all those “deploring” how masses of people have been speaking out in the wake of this, expressing the truth in “impolite” ways—it is a VERY GOOD THING that all this is coming to the surface, and MORE needs to be unearthed.


Some people say that because the LAPD is now said to be mostly “minority” it can’t be racist. Let’s go back to that BA quote. The police “serve and protect the system that rules over the people.” A system. In other words, they are an instrument and no matter who becomes part of that instrument—white, Black, brown—they have to fill a certain role. What role? “To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in.”

You can talk about reforming the police all day long... you can put your energy into civilian review boards or minority recruitment or “community policing” or any of the other bullshit solutions that come down the pike... you can call for meaningless investigations from commissions and departments from now til Doomsday... But until those underlying relations of exploitation and oppression are dug up... and until the conditions of poverty, misery, and degradation those relations give rise to can be transformed by a revolutionary power... then pigs will be pigs will be pigs.

And this gets to the second big truth. Note how in the examples above, there are all kinds of things mixed together—sometimes the pigs unleash their force against political rallies, sometimes they illegally prevent people from even walking on the streets or driving around, and sometimes they just use terror in outrageous and utterly unjustified ways just to kind of make the point that they can, as a form of intimidation and to send a message to the oppressed that their lives don’t matter. In each of these cases, FORCE AND VIOLENCE is being used to suppress the oppressed or to prevent people from protesting against the system. FORCE AND VIOLENCE. Not reason, not persuasion, not debate. FORCE AND VIOLENCE. And what does this tell you? It tells you that for all the talk of democracy, for those on the bottom—and for those who dare question things in a way that the authorities find even remotely disturbing to their “order”—this is a DICTATORSHIP.

The force that they use and the wanton violence they inflict on people are totally illegitimate. The force and violence serve a system which has stolen the land and the lives of minority people for hundreds of years and today continues to oppress and exploit them in new ways. They serve a system which sends drone bombers and commandos all over the world to enforce its “top dog” position. They serve a system which reinforces and benefits from really horrific oppression of women and then claims this oppression is just “natural” when people stand up against it. They serve a system which is hell-bent on plundering and destroying the very planet that makes our lives possible. What possible legitimacy is there to ANY of their force and violence?

We Need a Revolution

There is a way out of this madness. Revolution. And there is a way forward to that revolution—the vision and strategy developed by Bob Avakian, building on the revolutions of the past and taking them further. You can read about all this on our website ( or in our paper. You can check out the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), which lays out how the madness of today could be overcome and things could be radically different and better, and on the road to a world without exploitation or oppression of any kind. You can go over our statement on strategy, which shows how a revolution could be made... including the important ways in which incidents like this one get people “searching for answers.” And if you’re at all serious about changing this madness... about finding out HOW it can be changed and what role you can play in this, as you learn more... you have to get with our Party.

The important thing is this:

We are building a movement for revolution—a revolution which, in order to have a real possibility of winning, would need to involve millions of people who have become convinced of the need for this revolution and who, with the emergence of a deep-going revolutionary crisis in society, would be determined to fight to carry out such a revolutionary struggle and to fight to win. All of the work we are doing is aimed at contributing to the development of such a revolutionary movement, guided by this strategic understanding, orientation, and approach. If you want to learn more about our strategy for revolution—as well as why we think such a revolution is urgently needed by the masses of humanity, and why and how it is possible—you should come to the premiere of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!


Facts About LAPD: Rodney King Beating and Rampart Scandal

In March 1991, Rodney King, a young Black man, was pulled over while driving in LA. Twenty LAPD and Highway Patrol officers flooded the scene as a police helicopter circled overhead. In the following minutes, at least seven of the cops mercilessly beat and tasered King, crushing the bones in his face, breaking his teeth and ankle, and causing numerous lacerations and internal injuries. Other cops stood around laughing or sending racist radio messages to fellow pigs. Unknown to the cops, a resident across the street videotaped the savage assault. The video played on the news, and outrage spread across the U.S. and around the world. The anger was so deep and widespread that, in an attempt to contain the situation, prosecutors were forced to charge four of the cops with excessive force. As the trial approached, a judge moved the case from downtown LA to the overwhelmingly white suburb of Simi Valley where many cops and ex-cops live.

On April 29, 1992, the jury decision was announced on live TV—”not guilty” for all the cops. Almost immediately, Los Angeles—the second largest city in the U.S.—erupted in rebellion. Black people, joined by Latinos and people of many nationalities and coming from many different backgrounds, poured into the streets, refusing to accept the outrageous, unjust verdict in the trial of the cops who brutalized Rodney King. The 1992 LA Rebellion became the largest urban uprising in U.S. history.

• • •

In September 1999, LA cop Rafael Perez copped a plea on charges that he had stolen drugs from a police station for his own drug-supplying network. Perez—a member of the “anti-gang” CRASH unit of the Rampart Division in the immigrant neighborhood of Pico Union—began spilling the beans about years of criminal activity and violence against the people by CRASH cops. One crime he admitted to was how he and another cop forced 19-year-old Javier Francisco Ovando to his knees in the hallway of an apartment building, handcuffed him and shot him in the face. The cops planted a rifle on Ovando, and they claimed they fired in self-defense. Based on these lies, Ovando was sentenced to a 23-year jail term. When the truth came out, Ovando was freed—but he will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair because of the shooting.

This sparked what came to be known as the Rampart scandal, which was fueled by infighting within the power structure in LA. The scandal revealed that CRASH cops stole drugs from dealers to sell on the street. They robbed people, and beat up or framed anyone who resisted or got in their way. They used “throw-down” guns to cover up police murders. While the scandal started at Rampart, the same things were exposed in divisions all over the city. And behind the cops were the commanders, judges, prosecutors and legislators who rewarded the cops, took part in railroading people who were framed by the lying cops, or covered up for the cops’ crimes. At one point a list was released of 3,300 people who had been convicted on the testimony of 20 cops who were suspended or fired through the scandal. Others were simply deported out of the U.S. when CRASH cops couldn’t come up with anything to frame them on. In November 2000, three of the cops were found guilty in a jury trial. These cops were not charged with the most serious crimes exposed through the scandal, including murder. A few weeks later, an LA judge simply threw out the jury’s verdict.


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