After another example of offensive and frustrating conduct from US police, Los Angeles police are investigating whether there was misconduct in the Sept. 11 detainment and handcuffing of Daniele Watts, an actress known for her role in “Django Unchained”.
Watts was stopped after someone reported her and her partner, chef Brian James Lucas, kissing in their car. After refusing to show her ID, Watts was handcuffed, allegedly causing her wrist to bleed.
In his account of the event, Lucas said it was clear that police thought that Watts was a prostitute and he was a client. Watts wrote on her Facebook page that they were “showing affection, fully clothed, in a public place.” Naturally, there is concern that the confrontation was racially motivated, as Watts is a woman of color, and Lucas is white.
“As I was sitting in the back of the police car, I remembered the countless times my father came home frustrated or humiliated by the cops when he had done nothing wrong,” Watts wrote on her Facebook page, along with photos of the event.
“I felt his shame, his anger, and my own feelings of frustration for existing in a world where I have allowed myself to believe that ‘authority figures’ could control my BEING… my ability to BE!!!!!!!”
Tension is ever growing between police officers and normal citizens in the US, with an endless barrage of news stories and personal accounts detailing police aggression and racial profiling. Surely it is particularly upsetting when a Hollywood star is mistreated on false accusations. But what if Watts had been a prostitute? Would she deserve to be handcuffed and held for making out with someone in a car? Would it be any less of an intrusion for police to make her show identification and hold her until they could confirm her identity? Would the excessive force that caused her wrist to bleed somehow be warranted?
A Los Angeles police official defended the event as “basic police work.” And that is exactly the problem.
Photos via Daniele Watts’ Facebook.