Virginia cops are coming under fire for viciously abusing a college student for trying to enter a bar with a fake ID during a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, leaving his face bloodied and bruised and requiring ten stitches, prompting the governor to call for an investigation.
Witnesses say police from the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control needlessly escalated the situation against Martese Johnson, a 20-year-old student from the University of Virginia.
According to the Cavalier Daily:
Fourth-year Education student Bryan Beaubrun, who said he witnessed the incident, said an ABC agent approached Johnson shortly after the bouncer at Trinity asked him to step aside after refusing to accept his ID.
“Martese was talking to the bouncer and there was some discrepancy about his ID,” Beaubrun said. “[An] ABC officer approaches Martese and grabs him by the elbow…and pulls him to the side.”
The arrest took place shortly thereafter, as Johnson was talking with a small group of ABC agents and Charlottesville police officers.
“It happened so quickly,” Beaubrun said. “Out of nowhere I saw the two officers wrestling Martese to the ground. 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.”
Police released a statement insinuating that Johnson’s injuries magically appeared during a routine arrest.
“The uniformed ABC Agents observed and approached the individual after he was refused entry to a licensed establishment,” the statement read. “A determination was made by the agents to further detain the individual based on their observations and further questioning. In the course of an arrest being made, the arrested individual sustained injuries. The individual received treatment for his injuries at a local hospital and was released.”
The lack of details from their statement indicates that they are aware of possible video that would contradict their statements. So far, one video has been posted showing Johnson already facedown on the ground with two cops on top of him, telling him to “stop fighting,” even though he is only verbally expressing his shock and rage.
“How does this happen? How does this happen? You fucking racists. You fucking racists,” he yells.
The fact that the black student accused the white cops of racism has already prompted many commenters on the Youtube video to side with the cops.
The Black Student Alliance released the following statement:
“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”
Also, two black professors from the university released the following statement:
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
We are outraged by the brutality against a University of Virginia undergraduate student that occurred in the early hours Wednesday, March 18, 2015. This African American male student was injured on the Corner, after being stopped by Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) officers. His head was slammed into the hard pavement with excessive force. The student required medical evaluation and treatment at the UVa Hospital Emergency Department. This was wrong and should not have occurred. In the many years of our medical, professional and leadership roles at the University, we view the nature of this assault as highly unusual and appalling based on the information we have received.
This incident is now being handled at the highest level of the University and the State of Virginia. We have spoken with student leaders and are sensitive to the collective remorse and reactions of the University and community. We are asking everyone to exercise sound judgment and discretion, as we seek to protect the student’s rights and privacy. The Office for Diversity and Equity and the Office of African-American Affairs (OAAA) are available to provide support. This evening, the Office of African-American Affairs (OAAA) will be open until 8:00 pm to provide support. As we wait to learn more about what happened last night, please know you can call us to talk about this situation and your concerns.
Violence against an individual, no matter the color of his or her skin, gender, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation, is inexcusable and appalling. If you are the victim of bias, racism, hazing, or sexual misconduct please report the incident to the Just Report It system available athttp://www.virginia.edu/justreportit/. Our students have the right to a safe environment in which to obtain their education. We are deeply concerned about the safety of all students, faculty, staff, and community members.
Marcus L. Martin, M.D.,
Vice President for Diversity & Equity
Professor of Emergency Medicine
Maurice Apprey, Ph.D., D.M., FIPA,
Dean, African-American Affairs
Professor of Psychiatry
But the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control police can easily defend themselves from allegations of racism by pointing out that they also abuse white people, specifically a group of plainclothes cops who pounced on a car driven by a white girl last year and pointing a gun at her because they suspected her of drinking an alcoholic beverage when she was only drinking a bottle of sparkling water.
Elizabeth Daly, who was 20 at the time, was so terrified of the strange me ordering her out of her car at gunpoint that she continued driving, grazing two cops. She ended up jailed on assault charges, which were dropped when the story went national. She has since filed a $40 million lawsuit.
Governor Terry McAuliffe has since asked the Virginia State Police to investigate the latest incident.