It’s been nearly a week since LAPD handcuffed, detained and released African American actress Daniele Watts in response to a complaint of indecent exposure. Watts has since filed a complaint with the department.
Her facebook posting and the subsequent release by TMZ of audio from the altercation reignited the debate about racial profiling, police procedure and when you are and are not obligated show an officer your ID. But today, civil rights activists Earl Ofari Hutchinson and Najee Ali, who both initially came to Watts’ defense, are calling on the actress to apologize to the LAPD in light of new information that they contend casts doubt on her claim. In their statement they explain that "civil rights leaders take the charge of racial profiling seriously and [it] is not to be claimed frivolously,” and they’ve been outspoken about the damage they believe her actions have caused for situations in which they say actual racial profiling is at play. Their announcement also comes on the heels of one from Attorney General Eric Holder, who is promoting a federal $4.75-million initiative in five communities to study racial bias and build trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
Do you agree? Is the perception of racial profiling different for men and women? What kind of damage is done when doubt begins to be cast on these kinds of allegations?
Najee Ali, Social and political activist; Director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E.
Paulette Simpson-Gipson, President of the Compton chapter, NAACP