Daniele Watts charged with lewd conduct

Is actress being punished for speaking out against police?

by Jennie Kermode

Actress Daniele Watts caused quite a stir last month when she spoke out about her detention by Los Angeles police, accusing them of racial profiling. Now Watts, who was originally arrested on suspicion of prostitution, has been charged with committing a lewd act, leading to allegations that the police are looking for payback.

With Watts' husband also facing charges, the couple could be looking at up to six months in prison and a fine of $1,000 - despite the fact that police sergeant Jim Parker reportedly told the Los Angeles Times that the incident would have been ignored if Watts had cooperated. The actress objected to being asked to show ID, arguing that she was doing nothing wrong by kissing her husband in a public place. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has backed her on this but the LAPD is maintaining its position. Watts has filed a formal complaint.

The LAPD says it has at least one witness who claims the couple were having sex in their car when officers were called to intervene, something they deny. "If a passionate public embrace while displaying no nudity is grounds for having charges filed against you, then we’d expect that everyone who engages in an extended public display of affection with their loved one will be targeted as well," they said in a statement, maintaining that they were singled out because Watts is black and her husband is white.

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