Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There’s no price the big banks can’t fix

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

By 

OUR COMMON GROUND Voice

April 25, 2013

Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it “dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.”

That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.

Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It’s about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.

It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture.

The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia

Why? Because Libor already affects the prices of interest-rate swaps, making this a manipulation-on-manipulation situation. If the allegations prove to be right, that will mean that swap customers have been paying for two different layers of price-fixing corruption. If you can imagine paying 20 bucks for a crappy PB&J because some evil cabal of agribusiness companies colluded to fix the prices of both peanuts and peanut butter, you come close to grasping the lunacy of financial markets where both interest rates and interest-rate swaps are being manipulated at the same time, often by the same banks.

“It’s a double conspiracy,” says an amazed Michael Greenberger, a former director of the trading and markets division at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and now a professor at the University of Maryland. “It’s the height of criminality.”

The bad news didn’t stop with swaps and interest rates. In March, it also came out that two regulators – the CFTC here in the U.S. and the Madrid-based International Organization of Securities Commissions – were spurred by the Libor revelations to investigate the possibility of collusive manipulation of gold and silver prices. “Given the clubby manipulation efforts we saw in Libor benchmarks, I assume other benchmarks – many other benchmarks – are legit areas of inquiry,” CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said.

But the biggest shock came out of a federal courtroom at the end of March – though if you follow these matters closely, it may not have been so shocking at all – when a landmark class-action civil lawsuit against the banks for Libor-related offenses was dismissed. In that case, a federal judge accepted the banker-defendants’ incredible argument: If cities and towns and other investors lost money because of Libor manipulation, that was their own fault for ever thinking the banks were competing in the first place.

“A farce,” was one antitrust lawyer’s response to the eyebrow-raising dismissal.

“Incredible,” says Sylvia Sokol, an attorney for Constantine Cannon, a firm that specializes in antitrust cases.

All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation’s GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. Moreover, it’s increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system.

If true, that would leave us living in an era of undisguised, real-world conspiracy, in which the prices of currencies, commodities like gold and silver, even interest rates and the value of money itself, can be and may already have been dictated from above. And those who are doing it can get away with it. Forget the Illuminati – this is the real thing, and it’s no secret. You can stare right at it, anytime you want.

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Debt Inc. – The American Scam Economy -ProPublica

The 182 Percent Loan: How Installment Lenders Put Borrowers in a World of Hurt

by Paul Kiel, ProPublica, May 13

Many people know the dangers of payday loans. But “installment loans” also have sky-high rates and work by getting borrowers — usually poor — to renew over and over. We take you inside one of the biggest installment lenders, billion-dollar World Finance. More »

 

http://www.propublica.org/series/debt-inc

via Debt Inc. – ProPublica.

Cry About the Real Wolf l Real Danger in the Sequester l Charles Blow

OP-ED COLUMNIST

Cry About the Real Wolf

By CHARLES M. BLOW

 

The White House horribly botched its messaging on the sequester.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Charles M. Blow

Opinion Twitter Logo.

The Obama administration desperately wanted to define the sequester’s immediate job casualties and calamitous disruptions.

In a way, Obama’s strategy was understandable, and may well have worked on a different group of Republicans from the present crop, which is constitutionally opposed to anything that this president supports.

It’s like one of those Warner Brothers cartoons where Bugs Bunny argues with Yosemite Sam and then takes Sam’s position only to have Sam continue to disagree out of spite and anger and ignorance. In our version, Sam then threatens to blow the economy to smithereens. It would be funny it weren’t so tragically real.

The White House wanted to cause enough outcry that it would pressure Republicans into a deal that would avert indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts.

But the outcry never came. Republicans gambled that it never would. They called the White House’s bluff.

The public had grown numb with the sky-is-falling hysterics in Washington, so much so that few were paying close attention to the sequester. A CBS News poll issued this week found that only 28 percent of Americans said that they were paying very close attention.

Many Republicans played down the sequester’s potential fallout, while fact checkers castigated the White House for exaggerating it.

This seems to have won some converts among the tangentially engaged electorate.

Sure, most people preferred some balance of spending cuts and tax increases, and a plurality blamed Republicans in Congress for not coming up with a deal, according the CBS News poll. But the percentage of people who said that the sequester would either be good for the country or wouldn’t have a real impact was equal to the percentage of people who believed that it would be bad for the country.

And, since the country didn’t fall apart during the first week of the sequester, many Americans may be even more open to the argument that the administration was crying wolf. In fact, the Dow Jones industrial average hit a record high this week, and there were no long lines at airports for any reason other than a brewing snowstorm.

But remember that in the story of the boy who cried wolf, ultimately, a real wolf does show up after all the false cries, and that very real wolf destroys a vulnerable flock.

The lesson, as applied to our present dilemma, is that alarmism erodes credibility, but real danger can still lurk.

The pain of the sequester is that kind that lurks: a slow, creeping disaster mainly affecting those Americans on the fringes who are barely inching their way back into a still-bleak job market — or hopelessly locked out of it — and poor Americans too old or too young to participate in it.

That is how the effects should always have been framed: not as a danger to air travelers and contractors, but as a prowling danger to the most vulnerable in our flock.

Not framing it this way harkens back to a larger problem in our culture: a failure, or outright unwillingness, to acknowledge America’s poor — both working and not — and to appreciate their struggle.

When I think about the effects of the sequester, I can’t help thinking about the people in my hometown in rural north Louisiana and in places like it.

In my hometown, the median family income is less than $30,000, and poverty rates are staggeringly high, according to the American Community Survey. This isn’t necessarily because people don’t take work if they can find it, but because much of the work they can find doesn’t pay a living wage.

So they supplement their salaries with the public benefits they’re eligible to receive.

The town is also home to the Head Start program for the area, and some of the only professional jobs available are at the school.

It is in places like this, places full of the working poor who don’t take airplanes or own stock, that the effects of the sequester will be all too real.

The director of the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the sequester could cost 750,000 jobs this year. Those are not likely to be lost from the top down but from the bottom up. And the estimate of job losses isn’t simply a factor of government pink slips, but the blow to the private sector when billions of dollars are withdrawn from the larger economy.

Pundits and politicians have mocked the cuts for being small in the grand scheme of an enormous national budget, but those are the callous waggings of tongues that have never given voice to the fear of poverty or tasted the bitterness of hunger.

For the rest, the less fortunate, those trying their best to feed their families and praying that illness passes over their houses, these cuts will be no joke.

Those are the people the White House and Congressional Democrats should highlight: good people dealt a poor hand and trying to make good of it.

There is another America, unseen and uncelebrated, where the wolf is ever sniffing at folks’ heels.

Poison Pill Politics l Charles Blow NYT

OP-ED COLUMNIST

Poison Pill Politics

The deadline has passed. The sequester is in effect. And Congress is not in session.

By CHARLES M. BLOW
Published: March 1, 2013

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Charles M. Blow

We now know that our political system is broken beyond anything even remotely resembling a functional government.

The ridiculous bill was designed as a poison pill, but Republicans popped it like a Pez. Now the body politic — weak with battle fatigue, jerked from crisis to crisis and struggling to recover from a recession — has to wait to see how severe the damage will be.

(The director of the Congressional Budget Office estimatesthat the sequester could cost 750,000 jobs in 2013 alone.)

This is all because Republicans have refused to even consider new revenue as part of a deal. That includes revenue from closing tax loopholes, a move they supposedly support.

As Speaker John Boehner said after his Congressional leaders met with President Obama on Friday:

“Let’s make it clear that the president got his tax hikes on Jan. 1. This discussion about revenue, in my view, is over.”

Boehner’s intransigence during the talks drew “cheers,” according to a report in The New York Times, from his chronically intransigent colleagues. But their position is a twist of the truth that is coming dangerously close to becoming accepted wisdom by sheer volume of repetition. It must be battled back every time it is uttered.

Let’s make this clear: it is wrong to characterize the American Taxpayer Relief Act as a “tax hike.” In reality, much of what it did was allow 18 percent of the Bush tax cuts — mostly those affecting the wealthiest Americans — to expire while permanently locking in a whopping 82 percent of them.

But of course, that misrepresentation fit with the tired trope of Democrats as tax-and-spend liberals. It also completely ignores that it was Bush-era spending that dug the ditch we’re in.

Republicans have defined their position, regardless of how reckless: austerity or bust. However, as economists have warned, austerity generally precedes — and, in fact, can cause — bust. Just look at Europe.

But Republicans are so dizzy over the deficits and delighted to lick the boots of billionaires that they cannot — or will not — see it. They are still trying to sell cut-to-grow snake oil: cut spending and cut taxes, and the economy will grow because rich people will be happy, and when rich people are happy they hire poor people, and then everyone’s happy.

This is the vacuous talk of politicians trying to placate people with vacation homes, not a sensible solution for people trying to purchase, or simply retain, their first homes.

Now the president is trying to make the best of a bad situation and bring expectations in line with what is likely to happen.

When Gallup this week asked Americans to use one word to describe the sequester, negative words outnumbered good words four to one. The top three negative words or phrases were “bad,” “disaster” and “God help us.”

At a news conference after Friday’s meeting with Congressional leaders, the president tried to tamp down some of the most dire predictions about the sequester’s impact. He said:

“What’s important to understand is that not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away. The pain, though, will be real.”

The president knows well that if the sequester’s effects are so diffused that the public — whose attention span is as narrow as a cat’s hair — doesn’t connect them to their source, people might think the administration cried wolf.

That’s why he said, and will most likely continue to say for months, “So every time that we get a piece of economic news over the next month, next two months, next six months, as long as the sequester’s in place we’ll know that that economic news could have been better if Congress had not failed to act.”

He must yoke this pain to the people who invited it. It’s not as though most Americans don’t already think poorly of Republicans anyway.

Pew Research Center report released this week found that most Americans think the Republican Party, unlike the Democratic Party, is out of touch with the American people and too extreme. And most Americans did not see Republicans as open to change or looking out for the country’s future as much as Democrats.

The president said Friday that “there is a caucus of common sense up on Capitol Hill” that includes Congressional Republicans who “privately at least” were willing to close loopholes to prevent the sequester.

Those privately reasonable Republicans might want to be more public before their party goes over another cliff and takes the country with them.

I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me atchblow@nytimes.com.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on March 2, 2013, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Poison Pill Politics.
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For Op-Ed, follow@nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow@andyrNYT.

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Economic Mobility For African Americans May Be A Myth l Pew Report Finding

Economic Mobility For African Americans May Be A Myth, Pew Report Shows

The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted: 07/17/2012

Economic Mobility

The fine line between the American Dream and the African-American Dream is becoming more distinct, according to a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit research organization.

The survey of economic mobility across generations compared the income and wealth of Americans with that of their parents at the same age, and it offered a promising outlook for most Americans — 84 percent to be exact — who were shown to have higher incomes than their parents, when adjusted for inflation.

African Americans, however, haven’t had the same success, with just 23 percent of blacks raised in the middle class surpassing their parents’ family wealth, compared to 56 percent of whites.

The study’s project manager, Erin Currier, said the results aren’t far off from what a simliar 2008 survey found. “With this newest update to the data, we can see that not much has changed with a few more years of data added in,” Currier told The Huffington Post. “Specifically, African Americans are much more likely than whites to be stuck at the bottom of the income ladder over a generation, and also at the bottom of the wealth ladder,” she said. They’re also more likely to fall from the middle.

Currier and her team analyzed income data over five years from the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), a nationally representative sample of more than 18,000 individuals living in 5,000 families in the United States. During the years they chose — 1967, ’68, ’69, ’70 and ’71 for the parents; 2000, ’02, ’04, ’06 and ’08 for their kids — both groups were at a common age (in their early to mid 40s) and at similar positions of marriage, income parity and post-secondary education, Currier said.

“It is the case that African-American families manage to get to the middle class and they have some sense of economic security, but their ability to pass that on to their kids is not as high as the white families,” she said.

And while this particular study didn’t delve into specific reasons for this gap, Currier pointed to previous research showing the impact neighborhood poverty has had on maintaining wealth disparities over time. “Two thirds of African-American children born between 1985 and 2000 are being raised in high poverty neighborhoods,” compared to just six percent of white children, Currier noted, proportions that haven’t shifted much over the last 30 years. “It isn’t the case that two thirds of African-American families are poor, but a lot of even middle-class African-American families are living in high poverty neighborhoods and research shows that, that environment in childhood increases a person’s chance of downward mobility by 52 percent,” she added.

A study published in May by the National Bureau of Economic Research may have hinted at one of the barriers to moving out of those poverty-stricken neighborhoods, revealing that black and Hispanic homebuyers pay as much as 3 percent more for their homes, regardless of their income, wealth or credit profiles.

Pew research has also examined the roles that marital status andincarceration have played in the black-white economic mobility gap in recent years. Meanwhile, others have looked at the roles of higher education and even differences by region. (Those with a college degree and those who live in the Northeast U.S. have a higher chance of moving up, researchers say.)

Since 2006, Currier and her team have set out to examine the health and status of the American Dream, which she says is more than a cliche, but rather a part of our national fabric based on the notion that your children can do better than you did.

“Our research shows a pretty mixed view of the degree to which that’s true,” she said. “On one hand, there has been significant economic growth over the last generation, [wealth that] has been broadly, equally shared. But at the same time, we see some lack of movement on the ladder as a whole.” So even though Gen Xers may have greater incomes than their parents did within a certain income bracket, they may not make enough to move to the next bracket up, Currier explained.

That finding contradicts what is said to be the crux of the American Dream, that all Americans have equality of opportunity regardless of their economic status at birth.

“A defining factor of the American dream is that a person’s family background or income has no bearing on where he or she ends up, but the study shows otherwise,” Currier said in an interview with the Poughkeepsie Journal.

NEW IASP STUDY OFFERS NEW UNDERSTANDING OF FACTORS DRIVING RACIAL WEALTH GAP l THE HELLER SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL POLICY AND MANAGEMENT

 

The Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) develops strategies, processes, and policy alternatives that enable vulnerable populations to build resources and access opportunities to live securely and participate fully in all aspects of social and economic life.

NEW IASP STUDY OFFERS NEW UNDERSTANDING OF FACTORS DRIVING RACIAL WEALTH GAP 

The dramatic gap in household wealth that now exists along racial lines in the United States cannot be attributed to personal ambition and behavioral choices, but rather reflects policies and institutional practices that create different opportunities for whites and African-Americans, new research shows.

So powerful are these government policies and institutional practices that for typical families, a $1 increase in average income over the 25-year study period generates just $0.69 in additional wealth for an African-American household compared with $5.19 for a white household, in part because black households have  fewer opportunities to grow their savings beyond what’s needed for emergencies.

This groundbreaking study, The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide, statistically validates five “fundamental factors” that together largely explain why white households accumulate wealth so much faster over time than African-American households.

On February 27, 2013 there was a webinar hosted by the Insight Center’s Closing the Racial Wealth Gap InitiativePolicyLink, and Tom Shapiro, Director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University.  This webinar presented breakthrough research on what has been fueling our country’s growing racial wealth divide for the past 25 years.  Click here to listen to the playback.

As America continues to become more diverse, the nation’s ability to achieve sustained growth and prosperity hinges on how quickly we can erase lingering racial and class divides and fully apply everyone’s talents and creativity to building the next economy.

Featured Projects

IASP Partners with Compass Working Capital’s Financial Stability and Savings Program

Compass Working Capital, a small innovative CBO, was selected for funding by Strategic Grant Partners, Boston, MA, to implement an experimental asset-building approach to the HUD Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program for recipients of housing vouchers in Lynn, MA. IASP is developing and implementing the process and outcome evaluations and the preliminary cost/benefit analysis for this pilot FSS program. The multi-year evaluation focuses on how families use this opportunity to move toward economic stability, positive impacts sustained after program graduation, and the cost-effectiveness of taking the program to scale.

Senior Economic Security

Image of elderly woman

IASP examines the long-term economic stability and risk of senior citizens. The “Living Longer on Less” series, released in collaboration with Dēmos, includes:

Rising Economic Insecurity among Senior Single Women, October 2011 •  This most recent report in the series reveals that nearly half (47%) of all senior single women in America do not have adequate retirement resources to meet even their most basic needs for the remainder of their lives, and this number is rising.

The Crisis of Economic Insecurity for African-American and Latino Seniors, September 2011 •  This report reveals crisis levels of economic insecurity among current African-American and Latino seniors—52% of African-American and 56% of Latino seniors do not have adequate retirement resources to meet their basic needs throughout their expected life-spans. Driven by extremely low levels of asset wealth and high housing costs, most seniors of color are struggling financially during their elder years.

From Bad to Worse: Senior Economic Insecurity on the Rise, July 2011   The first in a series of four research briefs, this report shows a troublesome trend of increased economic insecurity among senior households in just four years (2004-2008). Economic insecurity among seniors increased by one-third during this period, from 27% to 36%.

Previous reports in the “Living Longer on Less” series include:

How the media tried to assassinate Chris Dorner Claims of ‘mental illness’ are in the mind of the beholder l Thandisizwe Chimurenga

How the media tried to assassinate Chris Dorner Claims of ‘mental illness’ are in the mind of the beholder

Published on Thursday, 21 February 2013 15:55

 Thandisizwe Chimurenga

LAWatts Time  Contributing Writer

 

 

Christopher Jordan Dorner is dead but his words and actions will continue to impact the Los Angeles area and beyond for quite some time. The former U.S. Navy lieutenant and Los Angeles police officer who is alleged to have shot and killed four people earlier this month was the subject of the largest manhunt in Southern California history.  Authorities say that manhunt ended on Feb. 12 with Dorner, surrounded by law enforcement in a cabin in the Big Bear area of San Bernadino, committing suicide as highly flammable tear gas canisters ignited the cabin and burned it to the ground.

Dorner’s ‘manifesto’, in which he declared war on the Los Angeles Police Department and his subsequent actions were horrifying to many.  In an effort to understand the reason behind his rage and actions, many mainstream media outlets posited that Dorner must have suffered from some sort of mental illness.

Appearing on “Piers Morgan Tonight” on Feb. 7 Dr. Xavier Amador, a regular commentator for CNN, said there was “absolutely no basis in reality for [Dorner’s] complaints that he was mistreated, that there was any kind of police corruption,” that Dorner had “clear signs of mental illness,” and that his ‘manifesto’ was “delusional.”

Amador’s analysis was based on a review of Dorner’s LAPD case file, he said.

According to Neon Tommy the online news site of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared that “Whatever problem [Dorner] has is mental,” while speaking at a press conference on proposed gun safety legislation. Villaraigosa’s comments were part of a Feb. 7 news article entitled “Christopher Dorner’s Navy Service Record And Mental Health Scrutinized.”

On Feb. 9, The Associated Press ran a news brief on Dorner’s unsuccessful attempt to obtain a restraining order in 2006 against his then-girlfriend Ariana Williams.  The story quotes court documents filed in the case that called Dorner “severely emotionally and mentally disturbed.”  The court documents also link Williams to a post about Dorner on a website that was signed anonymously, calling Dorner “twisted” and “super paranoid.”

Also on Feb. 9, The Christian Science Monitor, in “Christopher Dorner: Experts look for clues to alleged cop killer’s mental state,” quotes a retired FBI profiler who said Dorner’s actions were “completely over the top.” Dorner, who claimed in his manifesto that he simply wanted to “clear his name,” had a “personality disorder” according to Mary Ellen O’Toole.

While it can be considered normal to search for answers in a case such as this, attempting to make a mental health diagnosis of Christopher Dorner without ever having physically examined him is not.

“It is difficult to make a diagnostic conclusion given how little any of us know about Dorner’s mental health history, having no audio transcripts to review, no testing and assessment instruments to analyze, and no clinical interview data, said Thomas Parham, PhD.  Parham is past president of the national Association of Black Psychologists and a co-author of “Psychology of Blacks: Centering Our Perspectives in the African Consciousness.”

“All we have is a so-called “manifesto” (that I have not read) that is selectively presented in the media.  So, for the press and media to be making a statement in absence of that kind of information is just interesting, if not useless chatter,” he said.

Clive D. Kennedy, a clinical forensic psychologist and president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists, echoes Parham’s comments on evaluating Dorner’s mental state.  “I believe no professional has indicated he or she is aware of Mr. Dorner’s mental health status and therefore, we are unlikely to ever know, including those in the media who have been so forthcoming of his psychiatric condition,” he said.

Dorner claimed in his manifesto clearly and explicitly that not only was he a victim of racism but that his attempts to “blow the whistle” on the racism of the LAPD against him and other officers are why he believes he was fired.  According to Dorner retaliation against “snitching” on other police officers was one of several corrupt practices within the, department.  Despite this, much of the media coverage of Dorner’s mental state has conveniently left this fact out.

Are Charges of Racism Enough to Push One Over The Edge?

In her Feb. 9 Los Angeles Times op-ed, civil rights attorney Connie Rice recalls a conversation she had with former Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Jesse Brewer. Describing him as “wise and classy,” Rice states that Brewer, the first African American president of the Los Angeles Police Commission that oversees the LAPD, “came to my law office in 1990. He described to me his own ordeals on the force, in which white officers illegally blocked his entrance to the Police Academy, tried to plant false evidence on him, blocked all of his promotions and set him up for ambush in the field. He also described how viciously the department retaliated against him and other officers who tried to stand up for fellow officers or civilians who suffered abuse from cops. The LAPD never did allow whistle-blowers of any kind to survive, no matter how righteous they were,” wrote Rice.

Chillingly, Rice goes on to write that Brewer told her that Black LAPD officers had to resort to accepting abuse from white police officers and  “outsmarting” them because, “If you let them get to you, you’ll become homicidal.”

In her 1995 work “Killing Rage, Ending Racism,” noted political and cultural critic bell hooks wrote: “the conditions of racism can ‘drive one mad.’

Referring to an outbreak of violence in New York City in which a Black man opened fire randomly on a subway train, hooks states that “ … most Black folks can recognize that it is ethically and morally wrong to kill folks even as we can also sympathize with mental illness that is either engendered or exacerbated by life in [the United States].”

Psychologist Thomas Parham echoed that sentiment.  “We must extend our prayers for those who lost their lives in this rampage (both victims and perpetrator) and for the families who are left to grieve. There is never a justification for the taking of innocent lives, no matter what the level of unfairness one believes has impacted their own life.  There is nothing more sacred in the African tradition than life, so to be so callous in the taking of innocent lives would seem to be the most fundamental violation of an African centered worldview.”

Parham continued, “Clearly, the actions Dorner engaged in are very “out of the ordinary,” and beyond the realm of most standards of normalcy and decency that society embraces. Yet, like all of us, he is a product of a social system that makes an implicit contract with its citizens that says if you work hard and play by the rules, including doing the right thing on your job, then success should be the reward for one’s hard work, dedication, and commitment … I suspect that if he embraced this implicit social contract with the rigidity of a very concrete thinker, and then believes that his life was ruined by some unfair and discriminatory treatment when he called himself trying to do the right thing and report abuse by a fellow officer, then the violation and betrayal he feels might evoke that type of anger, rage, and desire for retribution that we all witnessed…”

Paul Harris, a San Francisco-based attorney and author, says that “ … even in cases where the perpetrator of the crime is mentally ill, one must look at the concrete experiences of racism (and other environmental hardships) to understand the resulting behavior.”  Harris is the author of “Black Rage Confronts the Law,” a 1971 book based on a case in which Harris was successful in defending a young Black man accused of bank robbery.  “Too many people cry racism in explaining these crimes without combining the underlying mental problems, with the specific life experience with racism the person has suffered,” said Harris.

Joy DeGruy, author of “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,” uttered similar  comments as Harris.  “I would think that any serious response would include consideration of the obvious and blatant differential treatment of African Americans by a dysfunctional justice system and the structural inequalities inherent in that system.”  DeGruy holds degrees in social work and clinical psychology and is an assistant professor at Portland State University.

More than 1,000 sightings of Christopher Dorner were reported to police during the manhunt to apprehend him.  The overwhelming majority of those tips were based on faulty identifications of Black men whose appearance was similar to Dorner.  What we do not know for sure is how many of those tips were from individuals that were simply Good Samaritans interested in assisting law enforcement, and how many were from individuals who were genuinely frightened that Dorner might attack them.

As we continue to ponder Dorner’s mental state we might also take into account the words of bell hooks:  “White supremacy is frightening.  It promotes mental illness and various dysfunctional behaviors on the part of whites and non-whites.  It is the real and present danger – not black rage.”

Read the LAWT Here