Black actress Daniele Watts said racial profiling on a national and personal level incited her to "explode" at police when they questioned and detained her for suspicion of lewd conduct with her white boyfriend, the Los Angeles Times reported.
On a panel at the University of Southern California's school of law on Monday, the Times said Watts referenced the shooting of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in August as a contributing factor to her behavior: “At a certain point, enough is enough and somebody has to say something."
Watts also said she and her father had been victims of racial profiling, which also affected how she reacted to police during the Sept. 11 incident.
The trouble started after police received reports about a couple having sex in a car with the door open. After police arrived on scene in Studio City, Watts refused to turn over her ID and was handcuffed and detained. The couple denied they were having sex; soon they were released and it was determined no crime had been committed.
But Watts and celebrity-chef boyfriend Brian James Lucas shared on social media their pointed views of what had transpired, posting photos and video — and the story exploded. The couple not only claimed police racially profiled them but also that others assumed she was a prostitute and he was her customer.
After the police sergeant at the scene released audio of the incident to TMZ, a follow-up investigation led to Watts and Lucas being charged with one count each of lewd conduct, which carries a maximum six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. In fact civil rights leaders who initially sided with Watts and demanded justice reversed course, saying the actress was wrong and that police handled things the right way.
Watts and Lucas, due in court Nov. 13, are standing by their account of what happened last month.
To that end Watts said she hoped the panel discussion at USC spark a broader societal conversation about race: “If we’re going to condemn me, then we also have to look at the entire society that I am a product of,” she said, according to the Times.
The "Django Unchained" actress also told students that when she was detained in September, it was her fourth encounter with police since she shaved her head, the Daily Trojan reported, adding that the sergeant at the scene told her boyfriend that “[Watts] needs to learn she doesn’t get to dictate what happens."
Here's a report on Watts' appearance on the panel:
(H/T: Daily Mail)