"Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts tearfully explained Monday how racially charged events nationally and her own history with alleged racial profiling caused her to "explode" at a police officer in September.
At a panel discussion at USC’s School of Law, Watts recounted her side of a Sept. 11 incident that drew national attention and charges of lewd acts against the actress and her boyfriend.
“At a certain point, enough is enough and somebody has to say something,” Watts said. She referred to this year's police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, in Ferguson, Mo., and to witnessing her father being profiled when she was 16.
Watts and her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, accused LAPD Sgt. Jim Parker of targeting the couple because she is black and he is white. She was detained for not providing her identification when asked.
The department has said that officers were responding to a complaint about a couple having sex in a silver Mercedes in Studio City near the CBS TV studios.
Watts was released with no charges at the time, but a follow-up investigation "revealed witnesses who were willing to provide evidence of a criminal act,” LAPD spokesman Lt. Andrew Neiman said.
The Los Angeles city attorney's office has charged the couple with misdemeanor lewd conduct.
The couple have said they are "appalled and disturbed" by the charges.
Watts said she hoped the panel discussion at USC would drive the broader societal conversation about race forward.
“If we’re going to condemn me, then we also have to look at the entire society that I am a product of,” she said.
USC professors Camille Gear Rich, Michelle Gordon, Shana Redmond and Diana Williams joined Watts on the panel.
Watts and Lucas are due in court Nov. 13. If convicted, they face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.