Black Actress Arrested on Suspicion of Prostitution for Kissing White Husband in Public

The photo you see below is of African American actress Daniele Watts, who appeared (ironically, as a cop) on the latest season of Weeds, as well as appearing in Partners and in Django Unchained.

Black Woman Arrest for Kissing White Husband

 Here’s what Ms. Watts has to say:

Today I was handcuffed and detained by 2 police officers from the Studio City Police Department after refusing to agree that I had done something wrong by showing affection, fully clothed, in a public place.

When the officer arrived, I was standing on the sidewalk by a tree. I was talking to my father on my cell phone. I knew that I had done nothing wrong, that I wasn’t harming anyone, so I walked away.

A few minutes later, I was still talking to my dad when 2 different police officers accosted me and forced me into handcuffs.

As I was sitting in the back of the police car, I remembered the countless times my father came home frustrated or humiliated by the cops when he had done nothing wrong. I felt his shame, his anger, and my own feelings of frustration for existing in a world where I have allowed myself to believe that “authority figures” could control my BEING… my ability to BE!!!!!!!

I was sitting in that back of this cop car, filled with adrenaline, my wrist bleeding in pain, and it occurred to me, that even there, I STILL HAD POWER OVER MY OWN SPIRIT.

Those cops could not stop me from expressing myself. They could not stop the cathartic tears and rage from flowing out of me. They could not force me to feel bad about myself. Yes, they had control over my physical body, but not my emotions. My feelings. My spirit was, and still is FREE.

I will continue to look any “authority figure” in the eye without fear. NO POLICE OFFICER OR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL IS MORE POWERFUL THAN ME. WE ARE EQUALS. I KNOW THAT I WILL ALWAYS BE FREE BECAUSE THAT IS THE NATURE OF MY SPIRIT.

And moreover, I deeply enjoyed connecting with the cops who detained me. I allowed myself to be honest about my anger, frustration, and rage as tears flowed from my eyes. The tears I cry for a country that calls itself “the land of the free and the home of the brave” and yet detains people for claiming that very right.

Today I exist with courage, knowing that I am blessed to have experienced what I did today. All of those feelings, no matter how uncomfortable. These feelings are what builds my internal strength, my ability to grow through WHATEVER may happen to me.

That internal knowing is what guides me in this world. Not the law, not fear, not mistrust of government or cops or anything else.

In this moment there is a still small voice whispering to me. It says: You are love. You are free. You are pure.

She left out the backstory there — which, to me, is the important part.

Watts had been kissing her husband, who is white, outside of the CBS studio.  The police saw this and detained her for questioning on suspicion of prostitution — not, of course, oh no, because she was a black woman kissing a white man and when they see that the lightbulb lights up above the cops’ heads and says “PROSTITUTE,” but because of her obviously provocative sexy sexy clothing evident in the photo.

They asked for her ID.  She, insulted, refused to give it to them and walked off.  Her mistake, from a legal standpoint, was not calmly (because it’s so easy to be calm when being asked for ID by a cop for kissing your white husband, while he is not asked for his ID, by the way) asking the office “am I free to leave?”; this would have forced the officer to decide whether or not to commit to the arrest, which would have led to her either being left alone or having a huge civil rights suit.  But it’s hard to blame her for walking away — because there is, simply, no way that she could have been stopped on legitimate suspicion of prostitution without it involving assumptions regarding race.

And that takes us to the point in the story that she presents above.  Arrested on suspicion of prostitution for doing what same race couple do with impunity all of the time.

I don’t even want to complain about the above behavior.  I would like SOME POLICE TO COME HERE AND EXPLAIN WHY WHAT THEIR COLLEAGUE DID WAS WRONG.

I do want to say one thing, though.

I am most of the way convinced that prostitution should be legal.  It already is, in effect, legal for the wealthy — one can pay for companionship, and if the companion decides to have sex with her or his “patron,” that is not necessarily a part of the bargain struck between them (although a “companion” who decides not to have sex will likely not get repeat business.)  I don’t like the idea of something being legal for the wealthy and illegal for everyone else.

I’m not entirely convicned, though, because of one good argument for prostitution being illegal.  That argument is based on the notion that if it IS made legal women who don’t want to be prostitutes would nevertheless be impelled or even compelled to become prostitutes in order to obtain certain benefits.  We know that people will make this argument — because they do.

Some people — they usually seem to be men — actually make the “she’s young, she’s pretty, why doesn’t she sell her body?” argument when dealing with a young unmarried mother of two who wants welfare benefits.  That argument certainly works to the benefit of men who want to be able purchase sex with young women — and avoiding these implications is one reason that we want people to be able to get a basic level of provisions without having to do anything (such as getting screwed by strangers) that they don’t want to do.  (Again, people that want to be able to have sex with desperate youngsters would like more women  — and men — to be put in the position of Fantine of Les Miserables, whose beauty turned out to be her curse.)

Callous disregard for the right not to be left to sell one’s body is horrific — and I’d want to see a way to allow women (and men) the free choice, without duress, not to be prostitutes before fully accepting that other women and men must have the right to decide that selling their bodies for sex is a lot better than other available options.

One solution is to make prostitution legal while ensuring a healthy level of public services and by making coercion into prostitution — something beyond mere solicitation — a crime.  And, of course, we need FAR STRONGER safeguards to ensure that anyone involved in the sex trade is doing so voluntarily — and we need serious, significant punishments against those who force people into the trade against their will.

Anyway, regarding such social policy, we’re not “there” yet — wherever “there” turns out to be.  What’s clear is this:

We as a society are not yet mature enough to allow police to arrest (mostly) women for prostitution.  In a society where so many of us, police included, have such screwed-up views about race and class, prostitution arrests will too often turn out to be based on prejudices regarding race and class.  This is intolerable.

Unfortunately, as long as prostitution arrests mostly skew towards the darker and poorer among us, for engaging in activity that a white woman in a mink stole might have easily gotten away with outside of the Segerstrom Center — GO AHEAD AND TEST THIS ONE OUT, LOCAL POLICE! — we just can’t allow such arrests to go on.  Whatever benefit we think (or want to pretend we think, without looking at the facts) that we get from making prostitution illegal, it is not worth humiliating a substantial part of our state’s population.

What benefit do you get from our current laws that outweighs Daniele Watts’s horror?


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)