When I first heard the story of Daniele Watts and her boyfriend, Brian Lucas, being detained by LAPD officers ostensibly because they were a biracial couple making out in a car, I was horrified. Being in a biracial marriage, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. Her especially. Why? Perhaps it’s because what seemed to have happened is the worst nightmare of anyone in a biracial romance. The idea that society would find your love so repellant that you could be met with harsh judgments or worse, imprisonment. Ms. Watts and Mr. Lucas have said that the police detained them because they thought she was a prostitute. Another fear of public perception to blacks in interracial relationships – that if anyone sees you with a white person, you must be somehow “owned” by that white person. In the history of the United States many can remember the fear and propaganda regarding miscegenation, often leading to laws that prevent race mixing. To this day, occasionally, my wife and I draw the random cross look from ignorant yahoos.
According to Ms. Watts and Mr. Lucas, they were fully clothed in a car making passionately making out in broad daylight. Witnesses have reported that they were having full on sex with the doors open. Daniele Watts, an actor most notably seen in Django Unchained, was a sympathetic figure before I actually heard her speak. It really doesn’t make any sense to continue without you hearing the tapes, so have a listen:
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Before we continue, the first thing you notice about these three tapes is they’re hilarious. That really is without dispute. The whole incident is a comedy of errors, because without the comedy, it would not exist. Ms. Watts goes from 0-60 in less than a flash. I’m the RaceMan, yes we all know this, but I gotta say she dropped the race card kinda fast. She makes an inelegant segue from “What’s the problem here?” to “It’s my right to sit on the FUCKING STREET CORNER and make out with MY BOYFRIEND! That’s MY RIGHT!” That happens in less than two minutes of real time with a cop who is honestly just not interested in any of the drama.
She puts her father on speakerphone, adding another item to the list identifying her as an entitled Hollywood princess. Not realizing that this cop doesn’t even want to be there – it’s been hot in L.A., and patrolling studios may seem glamorous to some, but this poor guy probably has to deal with egos like this or worse all day. This is CBS Studios in the Valley, for all we know this cop’s pulled over Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. As Daniele Watts continues on her rant to Daddy, the cop can only sigh, “I’d already be gone”. To me, the single funniest line from him in this whole exchange and that’s saying something, because there’s so much gold here.
In part 2, In Cuffs, I feel like Ms. Watts has begun to realize the gravity of her outburst. Not only because she’s handcuffed, but because Sergeant Parker has begun asking her existential questions. “Why do you think you’re in handcuffs?” “Do you think we put you in handcuffs, or you did?” I know, your mind is blown, so was Ms. Watts’, she draws a complete blank, especially when it’s noted that her boyfriend, who is cooperating and did not try to flee, is not handcuffed. Even then, she pushes – and not in a way that shows that she’s standing up for rights, or that she “believes in America”, as she would later claim – she wants to know to cop’s name, because “I think I’d like to identify you to my publicist.” Yuck. I guarantee her publicist cringed when they heard that. She may even need a new publicist after this. Funny enough though, in true Hollywood fashion, the cop “passes” on her offer to be made famous on the news, “I’ve been on the news many times”, he yawns.
In the third tape, she doesn’t realize how close she comes to actually getting in trouble. By now, the police have determined that there will be no charges made in this detainment, they’re trying to take the handcuffs off of Ms. Watts and she persists in being aggressive. This is first time we hear genuine tension in the officer’s voice. He makes what I consider the only real insult to Ms. Watts, in suggesting that he would “call paramedics” on her, smacking of the stereotype that he might have a “crazy black woman” on his hands. Parker is actually taking his sweet time getting the cuffs off of Ms. Watts, letting her mouth give her just enough rope to hopefully hang herself. Any other cop, on any other day, would’ve found or made up a reason right there on the spot. This is moment when Ms. Watts gets damn lucky.
The final tape of this confrontation is probably the most true and revealing thing about Daniele Watts. The cops from the initial confrontation are trying to leave, apparently a female police officer is now also on the scene. The entire clip is Ms. Watts, now apparently empowered by her inevitable freedom, unleashing a series of vile unwarranted insults at Officer Parker. How vile and unwarranted? Well, she managed to get some nonsensical crack in there about how he fucks his wife. It didn’t make sense, but it sure wasn’t classy. Remarkably classy until the end, Parker returns to check if at any point anyone was disrespectful to Ms. Watts. She cannot say they were.
So the other day Ms. Watts and Mr. Lucas go on CNN, where Michaela Pereira gave them quite a few chances to say that maybe they were wrong, or perhaps in this case cooperation would have been best, Pereira even brings the ACLU into it. Ms. Watts sticks by her story that she was singled out because she was black and talks about “standing on the shoulders” on ancestors or some such craziness. In the end, she’s just happy to fulfill her role as a “public figure” and bring more awareness to this problem. Yeah, okay.
It’s easy to laugh at Daniel Watts, really easy actually, but the saddest thing about this story is that she sees herself a victim on the level of some of the most notorious police brutality cases of our time. She’s just a lady who got caught having a quicky with her boyfriend and suddenly think she’s Mildred Loving.