Yesterday, a man who was probably Christopher Dorner barricaded himself in a remote cabin near Big Bear Lake, California, after shooting two police officers and killing one, before the cabin burned to the ground. Throughout the media’s coverage of this final showdown between the LAPD and the man believed to be Dorner, the hacktivist group Anonymous was stirring a pot of skepticism into an audience of more than 883,000 Twitter followers on their @YourAnonNews account, a following of more than half of the Associated Press’s primary Twitter account.
It is not surprising that Anonymous would come to the defense of Christopher Dorner. For one, anyone who has read Christopher’s manifesto will know that his rage appears to stem from the way he was allegedly treated during his time in the LAPD. He describes racist harassment from fellow cops and writes about his being fired from the force after he made a complaint that an officer kicked a homeless man, a complaint dismissed by a judge. He also accused another officer of jumping onto a 70-year-old woman and twisting the “thin elastic skin” of her arm, saying that the same officer found humor in “draw[ing] blood from suspects and arrestees.”
In his manifesto, Dorner insists that he has, “exhausted all available means at obtaining my name back. This is my last resort… The LAPD has suppressed the truth and it has now lead [sic] to deadly consequences."
Anonymous has always come to the defense of whistleblowers like Bradley Manning, who allegedly leaked information from the military to WikiLeaks; Aaron Swartz, the co-founder of Reddit who leaked academic documents and may have also contributed to WikiLeaks; and Barett Brown, who is facing 100 years in prison and did detailed research into the inner workings of American security firms. But of course, a murderous ex-cop is a lot harder to defend than these nonviolent liberators of information.
There is obviously some uncertainty from official channels surrounding the truthfulness of Dorner's claims, but even if the LAPD wrongfully fired him, he had no good reason to allegedly murder the daughter of the LAPD officer who represented him during his termination hearing, her fiancé and two other cops who got in his way.
There was also no good reason for the LAPD to shoot at two old women who were in a pickup truck that was similar (but not identical) to the one Dorner was believed to be driving at the time. The lawyer who is representing the two women is claiming that the LAPD offered no verbal warnings before shots were fired, a fuckup that is 1,000 percent unacceptable, no matter how tense the officers were or how serious and potentially deadly the manhunt for Dorner was.
Dorner's whistleblowing could go a long way toward bringing Anonymous onto his side (or as close to his side as they can be, given his murdering of innocent people), but the LAPD's shooting of innocent grandmothers also fuels the group's skepticism and distrust of the police, and more faith in Dorner’s twisted cause. Additionally, Anonymous is unhappy with the coverage of this case by the mainstream media, particularly during the final standoff.
One of their complaints pertains to the LAPD’s request that the media not tweet about the Dorner manhunt during the standoff. Their argument was summed up by the @AnonMedics account, which wrote, “‘Stop reporting on this immediately. You’ll be able to get all the details (we promise they’ll be true) from the police press office later!' The cops are concerned about DANGEROUS TWEETS throwing off their murder-mojo. This is a real thing that is happening.”
Anonymous was also upset at the lack of live footage over the cabin, claiming that the aerial shots being broadcast before it was set on fire were outdated by an hour and that the television media’s repeated shots of traffic cops running road blockades was not telling the story properly or showing the audience what was really happening. Authorities were, in fact, telling news crews not to broadcast live footage of the cabin, and—while there is the reality that no one wants to see another human being shoot themselves on live TV again—footage appears to show LAPD officers yelling “burn this motherfucker," indicating that there may be a larger reason why the LAPD didn’t want live close-ups on the scene.
I spoke to one of the contributors of the @YourAnonNews Twitter account regarding whether Anonymous was going to be heavily involved with retaliating against the LAPD. They told me, “I don't think attacking the LAPD is going to solve anything. Some people might resort to that out of hopelessness, and that's because they feel the truth behind this tragedy will never be known to them. Anonymous will do everything it can to discover the facts and disseminate them, but it's likely we'll never know exactly what happened at that cabin. CNN, FOX, and every news affiliate present at the scene are suspect. They were complicit in concealing the truth by allowing the police to dictate what information the American public deserved to be privy to. If they had just reported the truth the public would be able to handle it, whether they were angered or relieved by the outcome. I don't think it's Anonymous the LAPD has to be worried about right now, it's the public whose interest they claim to serve.”
Anonymous did make one public attempt to gain more information on the case, tweeting: “Hey #Dorner, you want to contact one of us (Anonymous) we will leak all the info you have and get you to stand trial safely w/o being killed.” While Dorner's allegations against the department may in fact lead to some uncovering of LAPD wrongdoing, the reality that he murdered several innocent people greatly overshadows those potential discoveries. However, given the public's preexisting skepticism of the LAPD and the support Dorner has recieved on social media—which has been a topic of conversation since this story began—it will be interesting to see how the death of the man who many people believe to be Dorner will be handled and reacted to by the public at large in the days to come. Or, who knows, maybe it was a body double and he’s in Mexico right now. We’ll find out soon.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @patrickmcguire
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