Flipping the Script on the Daniele Watts Incident

Will tensions between law enforcement officers and Black citizens ever pass in this country? It’s hard to tell, as entertainment news Web sites and blogs continue to buzz following an incident between Hollywood actress Daniele Watts (Django Unchained), her boyfriend Brian James Lucas, and the Studio City, Calif., police department. Watts, who is Black, was apparently engaged in foreplay or all-out sex while sitting in a parked car with her white boyfriend. When the story first broke, Watts claimed that police unlawfully asked for her ID, and when she refused, they detained her on charges of prostitution.

After more details of the incident emerged, it sounds like Ms. Watts and her boyfriend were at leastmaking out, which alarmed someone in one of the nearby office buildings, who approached their car and asked them to refrain from the distracting behavior. They didn’t refrain, at least not to the satisfaction of the onlookers, who called the police and demanded that they show up and do something. After the police arrived, one of the officers asked the boyfriend for ID, which he submitted, but Ms. Watts refused, interpreting the police’s actions as facist and racist.

Now a fuller story about the incident has emerged, including a recording of the officer’s interaction with Watts. She comes across as a bratty Daddy’s Girl who needlessly escalated an embarrassing incident into a verbal confrontation with police. At this point, I must confess to being utterly shocked, because I rarely ever hear of up-and-coming actresses being overly dramatic and milking situations for public attention!

You know what the awful irony is? Right now police forces in three cities around the country — Ferguson, Mo., New York City and Newark, N.J., are under either grand jury investigations for civil rights violations; media scrutiny over aggressive policing; and federal investigations over civil rights violations.

We should all be keeping these incidents in mind when we interact with police. Fascism and brutality are real problems in American urban police forces right now, and as we grapple with those issues the last thing we need are distractions of two granolas who simply chose to be sloppy about their love lives.

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