In a case of having her race card “punched”, Django Unchained actress, Daniele Watts, pleaded no contest on Monday to a charge of disturbing the peace with loudness after a very public case of accusing the Los Angeles Police Department of racial profiling. Police officers were investigating a report last September 11 that individuals were engaged in sexual intercourse in a parked silver Mercedes in Studio City near the CBS studios that led to her arrest.
Couple Arrested in Studio City
Police said that upon approaching Django star, Watts and her boyfriend, Brian Lucas, she had maintained that they were just kissing, although they were in some manner of undress. In audio gathered from the scene by TMZ, Watts is heard becoming belligerent at this point, proclaiming she has had the police called numerous times because she (Watts) is black and her boyfriend (Lucas) is white. The officer, at this point, responds that he did not “play the race card” and did not even mention her race. Watts then refuses to provide identification and cooperate with the LAPD officer and is taken into custody for failure to provide ID. She was released shortly thereafter. Upon further investigation and witness testimony, authorities were able to charge both Watts and Lucas with disorderly conduct and misdemeanor lewdness.
Accusations of Racial Profiling Made
Soon after being charged, the Django-famed actress began to raise allegations of racial profiling against the police department. The incident had soon occurred after the Ferguson police shooting of Michael Brown and racial tensions were still high. Watts participated in a panel discussion at the USC School of Law where she continued to level the profiling charges. She referenced the Ferguson incident and seeing her father profiled as a teenager as impetus for the racial persecution she identified with during her ill-fated arrest. Her boyfriend also took to Facebook, claiming because of their interracial makeup, police had jumped to the erroneous and bigoted conclusion that she was a “ho” and he was a “trick.”
The couple publicly responded that they were “appalled and disturbed” by their arrest. The Django star had hoped that the USC panel and their public transparency would further the cultural conversation of race relations. Watts said,
“If we’re going to condemn me, then we’re going to have to look at the entire society I am a product of.”
TMZ Audio Exposes the Truth
Unfortunately for Watts’ narrative, the TMZ audio of the arrest incident showed that at no time did the police officer make any racial overtone or accusation. The officer had been investigating a legitimate report of public lewdness. Audio from the scene of the arrest supported police accusation of the Django star’s belligerence and failure to provide identification. Witnesses further confirmed that the officer conducted himself professionally and within the purview of proper police procedure in the detention of Watts and Lucas.
Upon the exposure of this trumped-up racial profiling claim, civil rights activists in Los Angeles immediately demanded that the Django Unchained star apologize to LAPD for making the erroneous profiling claims. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable, denounced Watt’s victimization claims as being destructive to the cause of actual racism and the victims of profiling. They had quickly stood up for Watts after initial reports and felt that the obvious dishonesty hurts the real narrative.
Court Hearing Resolves The Case
With their mutual Monday plea of no contest to disturbing the peace with loudness, Django’s Watts and boyfriend, Lucas were sentenced to 40 hours of community service and Watts has to write a letter of apology to the LAPD. The couple continues to deny that they were engaged in lewd contact but Watts admits regret for some of the things she said to the police officer. If they get into no further legal trouble and keep their displays of affection private for one year, their records will be expunged. However, with the dissolution of trumped-up charges of racial profiling, the Django Unchained star’s race card is technically “punched” as of the Monday resolution of this case.
Opinion by Chris Marion
Headline Photo by Lars Christian Flem – Creativecommons Flickr License
Inline Photo (1) by Susan Catherine – Creativecommons Flickr License
Inline Photo (2) by Thomas Hawk – Creativecommons Flickr License