Martese Johnson, a junior and honor student at the University of Virginia was reportedly beaten severely for attempting to use a fake ID on the school’s campus. According to eyewitness accounts, Johnson did not resist arrest. A portion of the arrest was caught on video above including Johnson repeating that he was a UVA student and “how did this happen.” All the while horrified onlookers shout to the police to cease their attack.
In addition to the video an image of a bloodied and handcuffed Johnson has made the rounds on social media. In response a letter was released to the UVA community that read:
This morning Martese Johnson emerged with a head injury requiring 10 stitches.
He was brutalized by Virginia ABC law enforcement outside of Trinity Irish Pub. His face was bloodied. His body was bruised.
Outside of the doors of Trinity Irish Pub, a mass of University students bore witness to the officer’s animalistic, insensitive, and brute handling of Martese. He was left with his blood splattered on the pavement of University Avenue.
Today, we are reminded of the gruesome reality that we are not immune to injustice; as University students, we are not impervious to the brutality that has reeled on news cycles around the country. We have marched and shouted that we are Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, but the proximity of this morning’s brutality to a member of our community has deepened that wound. It is no longer happening only on national television—it is a reality here and now at the University of Virginia that we must face as a collective.
After Martese was denied entry to the bar, he found himself suddenly flung to the ground. The brutish force used resulted in his head and bodily injuries. His treatment was unprovoked as he did not resist questioning or arrest. In confusion, with blood painting his face and creating a pool on the bricks of the corner, he yelled out for mercy. Though he lay bleeding and crying out, officers continued to hold him to the pavement, pinning him down, twisting his arm, with knees to his back until he was handcuffed.
As students pleaded with officers to lift Martese from the ground they were pushed away, and some were even handcuffed and threatened with possible arrest if they did not leave the scene.
We demand there be a swift and thorough investigation on the state, local, and University levels. We have seen what happens at the University when we allow problems we have long known exist to be handled quietly, so we will not be quiet. We demand noise from each other, noise from professors, noise from administrators. Martese, like any other student at this university, like any other person in this country and in this world, deserves more than our uproar: he deserves follow through and intentional action.
Look forward to a follow up email regarding further plans and actions.
Concerned Black Students
University President Teresa Sullivan has requested an independent investigation into the incident. The request, put in to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, is awaiting response.
According to Jezebel Johnson was a “highly involved” student currently studying Italian and media studies and was involved in various forms of student government associations including the black student union.
A march has been scheduled for tonight at 8 p.m. from the Charlotsville Rotunda to the police department downtown.
According to the Cavalier Daily, Johnson was charged with “resisting arrest, obstructing justice without threats of force, and profane swearing or intoxication in public.” Johnson was held on $1,500 unsecured bond and released once deemed sober. Johnson is due to appear in court March 26 where he will face a class four misdemeanor which carries a fine of $250.