When news about actress Daniele Watts’ encounter with the LAPD was made public, many people, including several activists came to her defense. Watts initially called out the LAPD for racial profiling. As new details have emerged about the case, including the photos of Watts allegedly straddling her boyfriend in the car, it seems that Watts may not have provided a completely accurate account of the events. Now, civil rights leaders who initially defended Watts are calling on her to apologize.
Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable president Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Project Islamic Hope president Najee Ali and other activists held a press conference Friday, where they told reporters they have doubts about Watts’ version of the story.
When discussing Watts’ defense, Hutchinson admitted, “I was one that was very outspoken about it. We take racial profiling very seriously. It’s not a play thing. It’s not trivial.” Hutchinson is calling on Watts to apologize to the LAPD. He also noted that Watts’ Facebook post about the incident is, “Like crying wolf.”
Watts responded with a statement stating that she refuses to apologize, according to the Associated Press. Watts has filed a personnel complaint against the LAPD officers involved which is being investigated by the department.
While history has ingrained in us not to trust the police (especially the LAPD), it seems that a wait for the full story before jumping on the Watts’ bandwagon would have been the appropriate reaction. Those who quickly came to Watts’ defense based solely on her recounting of the event now find themselves in a difficult position. Their having to flip flop is especially disconcerting for these civil rights leaders and activists because they work tirelessly around social justice issues and work hard for those who truly experience being racially profiled.
Whether Watts actually apologizes is yet to be seen, but she has quickly lost support and sympathy and may have done serious damage to her name and reputation and might be known (maybe not forever, but for a good while) as the girl who cried wolf.