Protests, Outrage Sparked after Campus Police Brutally Beat Black UVA Honors Student
The bloody arrest of a Black honors student at the University of Virginia has sparked outrage, protests and an official investigation after the student was left with a head injury that required 10 stitches.
The image of college campuses as places that are still exposed to discrimination, racism and police brutality is surfacing yet again in the form of a bloody attack on a 20-year-old student.
Many people have a perception of college campuses being diverse environments full of individuals who are far too intelligent to take part in ignorant acts of racism. Fraternities like the University of Oklahoma chapter of SAE last week proved that theory wrong.
Now images of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson being arrested have gone viral as they capture a cringe-worthy, bloody scene.
Blood is leaking from the student’s head and splattered all over his shirt and on the ground.
Officers are seen surrounding him but don’t appear to be interested in offering any medical attention for the teen whose entire face is covered in blood in one of the viral images.
Along with the images, a public statement by a group calling itself “Concerned Black Students” has also gone viral and accuses the officer of using unnecessary force to arrest the young man.
“He was brutalized by Virginia ABC law enforcement outside of Trinity Irish Pub,” the statement reads. “His face was bloodied. His body was bruised.”
The statement also claims that a crowd of students witnessed the violent attack and reminded the students 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.”
The statement suggests the incident started after Johnson was denied entrance to a local bar.
“He found himself suddenly flung to the ground,” the statement said. “The brutish force used resulted in his head and bodily injuries. His treatment was unprovoked as he did not resist questioning or arrest.”
The statement and the concerning images have captured the attention of both university and state officials who are promising that a full and thorough investigation into the matter has been launched.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe publicly urged the university to take a close look at the situation.
The university’s president, Theresa A. Sullivan, the Vice President for Diversity & Equity, Marcus L. Martin, and the Dean of African-American Studies, Maurice Apprey, are all assuring students that the incident is currently being “handled at the highest level of the University and State of Virginia.”
Martin and Apprey said they were “outraged by the brutality” that was used against the student and are publicly condemning the officers involved.
Alcoholic Beverage Control agent J. Miller insisted that the student was “very agitated and belligerent” but also noted that he had “no previous criminal history.”
Several reports have highlighted witness accounts saying the incident started from a simple ID discrepancy that didn’t require any use of force.
“Martese was talking to the bouncer and there was some discrepancy about his ID,” fourth-year UVA student Bryan Beaubrun told the Cavalier. “[An] ABC officer approaches Martese and grabs him by the elbow…and pulls him to the side…I was shocked that it escalated that quickly. Eventually [he was] on the ground, they’re trying to put handcuffs on him and their knees were on his back.”
Johnson was held on $1,500 bail and released Wednesday morning after being charged with obstruction of justice without force and public swearing or intoxication.
With both of Johnson’s charges stemming from the actual encounter with police, the officer will certainly need to explain why he attempting to put Johnson in handcuffs in the first place.
After being released, Johnson joined his classmates and other students on campus as they protested what they believed was a racially charged incident of police brutality.
Some of the same students protesting in Johnson’s defense were also previously threatened by police themselves, a statement from the Black Student Alliance claimed.
“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,” the statement added.
Hundreds of students were present at Wednesday night’s protest, with some reports indicating close to 1,000 participants.