Tensions at the University of Virginia (UVA) are raging high post the bloody arrest of a Black student. Graphic images and a video that show the student bleeding profusely from the head during the arrest by white police officers have sparked outrage.
On Wednesday, March 18, 20-year-old Martese Johnson - a third-year UVA student - was arrested by the cops outside the Trinity Irish Pub around 12:45 a.m. after being denied entry into the bar.
Bryan Beaubrun, a UVA student, who was accompanying Johnson, revealed that they were trying to enter the pub when they were halted by a bouncer. Post this, a Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) officer got hold of Johnson from the arm and dragged him away from the bar so as to speak with other cops.
A minute later, Johnson asked the ABC officer to let go and attempted to pull away. It was then that another ABC officer got hold of Johnson from behind and both the ABC officers tussled with Johnson and took him to the ground. When tackled, Johnson hit his head on the pavement and per Beaubrun, who clicked images, the cops applied unnecessary power.
A crowd of students who were nearby captured the incident, taking videos and clicking images on their mobile phones. The images show Johnson with blood streaming across his face - an image that has gone viral on social media, causing a furor. The hashtag #JusticeForMartese is trending on social media as the racism outcry spreads like wildfire.
In the video, an onlooker can be heard telling the cops constantly that the student is bleeding. However, it is not clear in the video as to what happened before the arrest. It also does not show how Johnson got the wound on his head.
Johnson is heard calling the cops "racists" as they attempt to handcuff him. Officials from ABC have revealed that Johnson, who was a member of the UVA's Honor Committee, has been charged with obstruction of justice and public intoxication. The authorities, however, did not detail why Johnson was thrust to the ground during the tussle.
Several hundred students congregated at the UVA's campus to demand justice for Johnson, who has received 10 stitches to his head.
"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. This was wrong and should not have occurred," said Marcus L. Martin, M.D., UVA's VP for Diversity & Equity.