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#BBCtrending: Was actress detained for 'kissing while black'?

By BBC Trending
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image copyrightGetty Images
image captionActress Daniele Watts was put in handcuffs after refusing to giver officers identification

On 11 September actress Daniele Watts wrote on Facebook she was detained by police officers in Los Angeles. She had been kissing her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, in a car.

They were sitting in a Mercedes parked on Ventura Boulevard. Watts, who appeared in Django Unchained, is black. Lucas, a celebrity chef who specialises in raw food, is white.

Those facts are not in dispute. Other parts of the story, however, are controversial.

"Studio City police mistook the couple for a prostitute and john," according to Variety. "Watts refused to show her ID to the cops, and was therefore handcuffed".

image copyrightFacebook
image captionWatts was handcuffed before being released

In a photo she posted on Facebook, she is standing on a sidewalk, crying.

Afterwards she was placed in a police car. She wrote: "I was sitting in that back of this cop car, filled with adrenaline, my wrist bleeding in pain".

More than 6,500 people have liked the post, and it has been shared almost 4,000 times.

The incident strikes a chord for many people, particularly in the aftermath of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri

"I take my video camera everywhere," Bridge Golde commented on Facebook, "I'm thinking of have a T-shirt made that reads, 'I'm Black so I'm armed with a video camera.'"

Also on Facebook Richard Caroll wrote: "I am so sorry this happened to you. This was racial profiling."

image copyrightOther
image captionIn the US, the incident was trending on Facebook

In a statement, the Los Angeles Police Department say they were responding to a call about "indecent exposure".

"Upon further investigation it was determined that no crime had been committed," the statement reads. "An internal complaint investigation has been initiated."

Charlton McIlwain, an associate professor of media at New York University, told BBC Trending the image of Ms Watts in handcuffs is deeply divisive.

"There are many who will look at it and say, 'The police are reasonable.,'" he said.

"For others it's tragic. For the past several decades, or even century, this image of African-Americans and crime has been the predominant one in the US landscape."

"It means we haven't come as far as we think we have," he said.

Reporting by Tara McKelvey

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