By: John Bacon
The former Los Angeles police officer accused of a revenge killing spree before perishing in a cabin fire as authorities closed in is drawing a small but increasingly vocal band of support via protests and social media.
Christopher Dorner, 33, was kicked off the force in 2009. A rambling Facebook manifesto attributed to him blasted the department for protecting racists and promised revenge against those he believed were to blame for his dismissal.
Dozens of protesters rallied outside LAPD headquarters Saturday in support of Dorner, most saying they didn't support his deadly methods but did believe Dorner's claims of racism and unfair treatment.
Protester Andrea Tovar, 18, told the Los Angeles Times that police need to know "they can't get away with everything."
"Murder is never right, but neither is the law when it's unjust," Tovar said.
Dorner also has some support in social media. The "We Stand With Christopher Dorner" Facebook page had drawn more than 27,000 "likes," and the "I Support Christopher Jordan Dorner" page has more than 16,000. Some backers have also appeared on Twitter.
Other shows of support for Dorner include a ballad titled El Matapolicias, or The Police Killer, penned by a Mexican crooner with lyrics paying homage to Dorner, and a YouTube clip showing excerpts from a video game titled Christopher Dorner's Last Stand Survival Game whose opening frame declares him "A True American Hero."
Dorner was already believed to have killed three people when he was cornered Tuesday at the cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains. San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said Dorner killed a sheriff's deputy in a furious shootout shortly before the cabin was consumed in flames.
Deputies said they heard one gunshot as the blaze began, and McMahon said Friday that Dorner died of a single gunshot wound to the head, apparently self-inflicted.
McMahon said Dorner ignored calls for surrender. When milder tear gas failed to drive Dorner out, "burner" gas canisters were fired into the cabin - but the subsequent fire was not intentional, McMahon said.
Saturday's protesters were unconvinced. Michael Nam, a member of the Army National Guard and a former Marine, held a sign with a flaming tombstone and the inscription "RIP Habeas Corpus."
"How the police handled this -- they were the judge, the jury and the executioner," Nam, 30, told the Times. "As an American citizen, you have the right to a trial and due process by law."
MORE: Officials: Dorner died of single gunshot to head
Marc Lamont Hill, an associate professor of English education at Columbia University, told CNN that although "what he did was awful," parts of Dorner's manifesto make sense.
"When you read his manifesto, when you read the message he left, he wasn't entirely crazy," Hill said. "He had a plan and mission here, and many people aren't rooting for him to kill innocent people, they're rooting for somebody who was wronged to get a kind of revenge against the system."
Scott Talan, a professor of public communications at American University in Washington, told USA TODAY that some people have grudges against government, police or other authority and see a bit of themselves in Dorner.
"It's only surprising in that what he did was so awful," Talan said. "There is this view of the rogue shooter who has been wronged, Charles Bronson in Death Wish, even Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry."