Los Angeles police sergeant Jim Parker does not deserve to be fired for his role in the handcuffing and detaining of actress Daniele Watts when she refused to identify herself.
Daniele Watts and her man, celebrity chef Brian Lucas, have worked my last nerve regarding this situation. Watts, whose claim to fame is her role in the film Django Unchained is still pissed about being detained after she refused to identify herself when the police were called to investigate two people possibly having sex in a car parked on Radford Avenue in Studio City.
Lucas wrote in a Facebook post that the police had acted as though the couple had been engaged in prostitution because Lucas is white and Watts is black.
Now what probably really happened is that it did look like prostitution to a witness who in turn called 911. I’m not so sure looking at the both of them if I wouldn’t have had the same thought and that’s just keeping it real.
As far as I’m concerned, cars are for transporting you from one place to another. Not for making out in. Why even be in the position of having someone think that you are having sex in your car in public in the first damn place? And if you are caught in the act of whatever the hell it is that you’re doing, before you scream racism, just show the cop your frickin’ ID and then carry on. IDs were made to ID. Imagine how much stronger her position might have been had she just followed her man’s lead and produced her ID instead of going diva.
This story has taken off all over the place and just when I think it’s died down, I find something new on my damn Twitter feed about it. The latest being Watts’ op-ed in the Los Angeles Times defending her position and Tuesday’s appearance of Sgt. Parker at the Police Commission meeting.
Before the Police Commission Parker defended giving the September 11 recording to celebrity news site TMZ in an effort to “avert a potentially volatile racial controversy.”
Parker said, “I had to make a decision. We were facing another racial, tumultuous incident in L.A. I said, ‘This has to stop right away.’ I drove to my station, grabbed the recording and called TMZ. It stopped the next day.”
This is new territory for the LAPD who in recent months has seen quite a few members of the rank-and-file speak up about the internal dealings within the department (good for them). As you know, the department generally frowns upon its officers publicly releasing confidential records, including audio recordings (let us not forget Lygagate).
“Is it against department policy? Yes,” Parker said. “Is it the right thing to do? Yes.”
Again, good for him. It’s about time.
As an African-American in Los Angeles, I believe in fighting police misconduct wherever it rears its ugly head here in the Southland, but this ain’t a case of it.
What I’m absolutely sure got Chief Charlie Beck’s boxers in a bunch is Parker’s description of him as “one head of a multi-headed snake on this department.” That comment alone is probably enough for the department to find some way to excuse him from his position.
Parker told me that he’s pretty sure the department is going to try and relieve him of duty.
He said that he’s on a 30-day medical leave right now and that he was told he was going to be removed from patrol and ordered to have no contact with the public. I understand that attorney Ira Salzman (yes, Detective Frank Lyga’s Ira Salzman) is representing him.
As an African-American in Los Angeles, I believe in fighting police misconduct wherever it rears its ugly head here in the Southland, but this ain’t a case of it. This is about a woman and her man not being able to wait to get it on at home and then when caught, the woman causing a big ole’ scene for no apparent reason other than publicity.
Black people have real issues with law enforcement and quite frankly it’s a waste of my time and others to have to deal with Daniele Watts and her man.
There are police officers beating the crap out of Black people. There are police officers killing unarmed Black people and getting away with it. There are police officers actually racially profiling Black people. But this isn’t one of those cases.
I think what’s really going to be interesting is seeing just how expeditiously the department moves on trying to relieve Parker of duty, especially when they have done pretty much nothing about Detective Frank Lyga’s little meltdown or any of that nasty business going on over at Newton Division.
Parker, while I hope this isn’t the case, may just become another poster child for all that is wrong with LAPD’s disciplinary system. From what I can tell, he is not sponsored or related to anyone in command staff, so his chances of escaping the wrath of Beck aren’t looking so good. If they don’t nail him on his interaction with Watts, then they’re probably going to nail him on releasing the recording. But let’s be clear, any discipline is really going to be for calling Chief Charlie Beck a snake. All of which is going to do nothing to help morale in a department that’s already so low, it’s hard to believe it can get any lower.
The public is always talking about how they want cops who do the right thing patrolling their streets and neighborhoods. Well this is a perfect opportunity to back a cop who did the right thing. You and I both know if Parker hadn’t released that recording it would have likely never seen the light of day. I mean, we are talking about the LAPD.
While I have no real faith in the Police Commission, given their past track record when it comes to officers stepping up to expose the department’s dirty laundry and internal wrongdoings, for those who actually care about Sgt. Parker’s future, now might be a good time to reach out to the Police Commission, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and members of the Los Angeles City Council to voice your support. His job is clearly on the line.
At the end of the day, all of this is political—it shouldn’t be, but it is. Nobody wants angry Black people in front of their office or down at City Hall screaming about the LAPD. But I think most Black people are smart enough to see that while we may have issues with the LAPD, this isn’t one of them. This is just a woman and her man (but really, more the woman) trying to push an issue that isn’t really there and make a bigger name for herself in the world. She might have succeeded in the latter, but I doubt it’s the name she was going for.
Jasmyne A. Cannick
Jasmyne A. Cannick is a native of Los Angeles and writes about the intersection of race, pop culture, class, and politics. She was chosen as one of Essence Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World and One of the Most Influential African-Americans in Los Angeles Under 40. She can be found online at jasmyneonline.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jasmyne and on Facebook at facebook.com/jasmynecannick.