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Just days after she was detained by police officers who she claims thought she was a prostitute, Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts appeared on CNN’s New Day with her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, continuing to stand behind her actions and saying she hoped that her experience could serve as a teaching moment.
“I feel humbled by the experience and know that there’s a lot for us to grow and learn from it,” Watts said.
Watts explained that she resisted handing over her ID, which a police officer asked her to do, according to audio of the incident released Monday morning by TMZ, because she believed she was doing nothing wrong. Unidentified witnesses located at the Art Directors Guild office building nearby told TMZ that Watts and Lucas were having sex in a car with the door open at the time of the police inquiry.
“I’m within my amendment rights, my constitutional rights to say no. Unless you’re charging me with a crime, I will not be giving you my ID. That is a right that I stand up for because of the shoulders that I stand on because of the people who fought so hard before me. Black, white, all people have been fighting for these rights for freedom. It’s beyond race at this point,” she said.
She also felt disrespected when the officer asked Lucas for Watts’ ID instead of asking her directly, even though she was on the phone when the police approached them.
“If he had come to me and said, ‘Excuse me, ma’am, you seem like a respectable person but someone made a call,’ the whole situation would’ve been different. But he came at it with a very condescending manner that I feel like is typical of what’s happening in law enforcement across the country right now. And if we’re the country that’s supposed to be representing freedom and equality for all, then our police officers should be trained in treating people with that sort of dignity,” she said.
When asked how she would have handled the incident if she were the police officer, Watts, who said she’s played a cop before, added, “It comes down to seeing the humanity in another person and having empathy and awareness for what your actions are and the repercussions of those actions are … so he didn’t even give me the respect of telling me what happened” when he asked Lucas for her ID instead of asking her for it.
Lucas also felt like the way the officer dealt with the incident and the questions he asked them “made me feel like I was a client and she was a prostitute.”
Watts and Lucas were “briefly detained” until it was determined they had not committed a crime, at which point they were released, the Los Angeles Police Department told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that an internal investigation has been initiated.
Sept. 15, 3:15 p.m. A previous version of this story referenced TMZ‘s mention of the Director’s Guild building. It has been updated to reflect TMZ‘s correction.
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