— Bryan J. R™ (@KingBryan_) March 18, 2015
A college community outraged that their fellow student, University of Virginia junior Martese Johnson, was beaten by state Virginia alcohol control agents while celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, rallied behind him in support Wednesday night.
Hundreds of students gathered at the university’s amphitheater to discuss race relations on campus and to denounce the encounter that left Johnson, an Italian and media studies major, with a gash that required 10 stitches. A photograph of Johnson’s bloodied face circulated the web late Wednesday, garnering the attention of activists, celebrities, and other college communities that took to Twitter to call for a stop to police brutality.
Following the incident, UVA’s Concerned Black Students penned a letter. The statement was then circulated by the UVA Black Student Alliance. Johnson is the leadership development chair of the organization.
“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,” the students wrote.
“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.”
A march was organized in Charlottesville from the campus to the police station Wednesday night.
The response, for many students, was overwhelming.
— RŸ (@marytoppdoe) March 19, 2015
“We won’t go!” Something of a standoff here at University Ave and Chancellor Street on UVa’s campus. pic.twitter.com/m9CP6L3zjZ
— Joel D. Anderson (@byjoelanderson) March 19, 2015
— IV (@ShimmyNeutronn) March 19, 2015
— NegrodaMu (@SchmurdaMu) March 19, 2015
— Danaya: BuyTAAN331 (@danayasworld) March 19, 2015
Johnson also appeared at the demonstration, calling for students to respect one another in the wake of the tragic incident, according to CNN.
“Regardless of your personal opinions and the way you feel about subjects … please respect everyone here,” he said. “We are one community. We deserve to respect each other, especially in times like this.”
Shortly before students gathered to call for change, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered an investigation by the Virginia State Police to determine if the alcohol control agents’ use of force was excessive. The agents involved in the arrest have been assigned to administrative duties, the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control told BuzzFeed News.
ABC officials, while mum about the use of force, did release a statement on Wednesday acknowledging the arrest.
“The uniformed ABC Agents observed and approached the individual after he was refused entry to a licensed establishment,” Virginia ABC said in a statement. “A determination was made by the agents to further detain the individual based on their observations and further questioning.”
Johnson is expected to appear in court on March 26 for misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest, obstructing justice without threats of force, and profane swearing or intoxication in public. His attorney, Daniel Watkins, said his client is “devastated” about the arrest.
“As evidenced by both his academic and extracurricular achievements, Martese is a smart young man with a bright future,” Watkins said. “I have spoken with him several times today, and he is absolutely devastated by yesterday’s events. Currently, we are preparing to investigate and defend this matter vigorously.”
An investigation continues.
SOURCE: CNN, Twitter | PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter