Both incidents occurred over the last month – the first (with actress Daniele Watts) just last week Thursday, September 11; and the second, on the 22nd of August (producer Charles Belk). You likely already heard/read about one or both – especially Belk’s, since it’s been in the news much longer than Watts’, which happened just a few days ago. But in case you haven’t, I’ll skip any commentary and just let you hear from both of them directly, presenting their stories, verbatim, as shared on their Facebook pages, soon after each occurrence.
Really, what else can one say about these kinds of age-old incidents, that hasn’t already been written/rapped/sang/filmed/photographed/discussed/debated ad nauseam.
What happens next?
First, from Daniele Watts, who was “handcuffed and detained” by Los Angeles police officers after being mistaken for a prostitute, because they saw her being publicly affectionate with her husband Brian James Lucas (who is white). Apparently, in the eyes of the LAPD, when a black woman and a white man are kissing each other in public, the black woman must be a prostitute.
When approached by the cops and asked for ID, Watts refused (because she hadn’t done anything wrong), and was then handcuffed and seated in the back of the police car. They eventually figured out who she was, and let her go afterward:
“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.”
And second, after reading all that Charles Belk already shared on his Facebook page, in a lengthy post, there really isn’t much more that one can add to it. I’ve embedded the entire piece below.
In short, the 51-year-old producer stepped out of a pre-Emmys event he was attending, to check the meter where he was parked, on the afternoon of August 22, in Beverly Hills, when he was accosted, handcuffed and detained for 6 hours by Beverly Hills police. Why? Because he looked like a burglary suspect. He “fit the description,” as the long-running saying goes.
Eventually, they found out he wasn’t who they thought he was, and he was released.
Here is his story:
“WHEN YOU “FIT THE DESCRIPTION”!
It’s one of those things that you hear about, but never think it would happen to you.
On Friday afternoon, August 22nd around 5:20pm, while innocently walking by myself from a restaurant on Wilshire Blvd, to my car up LaCienega Blvd my freedom was taken from me by the Beverly Hills Police Department.
Within seconds, I was detained and told to sit on the curb of the very busy street, during rush hour traffic.
Within minutes, I was surrounded by 6 police cars, handcuffed very tightly, fully searched for weapons, and placed back on the curb.
Within an hour, I was transported to the Beverly Hills Police Headquarters, photographed, finger printed and put under a $100,000 bail and accused of armed bank robbery and accessory to robbery of a Citibank.
Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that my car had been impounded…..All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong “tall, bald head, black male,” … “fitting the description.”
I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know at the time that I was a law abiding citizen of the community and that in my 51 years of existence, had never been handcuffed or arrested for any reason. All they saw, was someone fitting the description. Doesn’t matter if he’s a “Taye Diggs BLACK”, a “LL Cool J BLACK”, or “a Drake BLACK”
I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that I was an award nominated and awarding winning business professional, most recently being recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal at their Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship Awards. They didn’t need to because, they saw someone fitting the description.
I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that I was a well educated American citizen that had received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, an MBA from Indiana University (including a full Consortium Fellowship to business school) and an Executive Leadership Certificate from Harvard Business School. Hey, I was “tall”, “bald”, a “male” and “black”, so I fit the description.
I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that I was a Consultant for the NAACP, a film and tv producer, a previous VP of Marketing for a wireless application company, VP of Integrated Promotions for a marketing agency, ran Community Affairs for the Atlanta Hawks, was the Deputy Director of Olympic Village Operations for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, was a Test/Quality/Mfg Engineering Manager for IBM and was a Bond Trader on Wall street. Surely, folks that fit the description wouldn’t qualify as any of those.
I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that throughout my entire life I have been very active in serving the communities that I have lived in, including Chapter President and National PR Chair for NSBE, a USC Student Senator, a USC Trojan Knight, a USC Engineering Student Council Member, a USC Black Students Council Member, and a Resident Assistant; as well as a founding board member of the RTP NBMBAA, a member of Durham County Transportation Advisory Board, Durham City / County Planning Commission, Atlanta House of Love for the Homeless Board, Cobb County Transportation Advisory Board, Georgia CASA Board, United Way of Greater Atlanta VIP Selection Committee, Jomandi Theater Board, Silver Lake Film Festival Board, Downtown LA Film Festival Board, Chaka Khan Foundation Fundraising Dinner Committee, and the USC Black Alumni Association Board. Nawl, not a “black male”, especially a “tall, bald” one.
I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that just hours earlier, I was at one of the finest hotels in their city, handling celebrity talent at a Emmy Awards Gifting Suite, as part of business as usual, and, invited to attend a VIP Emmy pre-party that very night in their city. The guy doing that, just DON”T fit the description.
What I don’t get………WHAT I DON”T GET, is, why, during the 45 minutes that they had me on the curb, handcuffed in the sun, before they locked me up and took away my civil rights, that they could not simply review the ATM and bank’s HD video footage to clearly see that the “tall, bald headed, black male”… did not fit MY description.
Why, at 11:59pm (approximately 6 hours later), was the video footage reviewed only after my request to the Lead Detective for the Beverly Hills Police Department and an FBI Agent to do so, and, after being directly accused by another FBI Special Agent of “…going in and out of the bank several times complaining about the ATM Machine to cause a distraction…” thereby aiding in the armed robbery attempt of a bank that I never heard of, or ever been to; and within 10 minutes……10 MINUTES, my lawyer was told that I was being release because it was clear that it was not me.
The sad thing is, prior to my freedom being taken from me for an easily proven crime I did not commit, I was walking back to my car, by myself, because I needed to check my parking meter, so that I wouldn’t get a ticket and break the law. In fact, if it wasn’t for a text message that I was responding to, I would have actually been running up LaCienega Blvd when the first Beverly Hills Police Officer approached me. Running!
I want to thank GOD, Robin Lola Harrison of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, Robert Dowdy and Attorney Jaaye Person-Lynn , without whom, I am certain that I would still be locked up in the custody of the Beverly Hills Police Department. Based on comments made by a Beverly Hills Police Officer during my booking, and an FBI Special Agent, it appeared that they had tried and convicted me.
To everyone, especial black males (regardless of height, hair style or particular shade of “black”) – Hari Williams, Reginald L Shaw, Shawn Carter Peterson, Devon Libran, Aaron D Spears, Cedric Sanders, Catfish Jean, Ashford Thomas, Drew McCaskill, Carlton Jordan, AS Lee, Bertrand L Roberson Sr, Deron Benjamin, Hawk Oau, James Alan Belk, Juhahn Jones, Darryl Dunning II, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Stephen Bishop, Logan Alexander, Anderson Anderson, Jon Covington, Lamar Stewart, David Mitchell, Gerald Edwin Rush II, etal, – I have always stayed as far away from being on the wrong side of the law as much as possible; so please, be careful. If something like this can happen to ME, it can certainly happen to ANYONE!
Time has come for a change in the way OUR law enforcement officers “serve and protect” us.
We all do not, FIT THE DESCRIPTION.
Peace and Blessings…”