Martese Johnson, a black student at the University of Virginia, reportedly was beaten heavily by police for possessing fake identification outside a Charlottesville bar Tuesday night during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, according to the university's Black Student Alliance group. Graphic video and photos of the incident showed three officers handcuffing Johnson, whose head was covered in blood.
A video started as Johnson was being restrained by law enforcement officers under the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Johnson can be heard yelling “how did this happen” and “I go to UVA” and accusing officers of racism as he was restrained and arrested. The events prior to the video have not been independently confirmed.
The Black Student Alliance released a statement Wednesday in which it called the officers’ actions “animalistic, insensitive” and brutal. Johnson was forcibly arrested after being denied access to the Trinity Irish Pub, according to the student group.
“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,” the statement read. “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 group, which demanded a thorough investigation into the incident, is working with attorneys at the Williams Mullen law firm. The entire statement can be read on the group’s Facebook page.
WARNING: VIDEO AND PHOTOS SHOW GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND PROFANITY.
â€” Global Grind News (@GlobalGrindNews) March 18, 2015
A photo circulating on Twitter showed Johnson holding a whiteboard that reads “I am the ONLY Black student on the Honor Committee. But I’m not the only honorable black student at UVA.” Johnson is the vice chair for community relations on the executive committee of the honors committee. It was unclear what his academic level classification is.
Protests reportedly are planned for 8 p.m. local time. Social media users are tagging posts related to the incident with #JusticeForMartese.
â€” Dare Day (@__HeyMina) March 18, 2015
â€” megan (@mgremb) March 18, 2015
8pm. UVA. Clark 108. Forum, then rally. #JusticeForMartese (Room Change)
â€” deray mckesson (@deray) March 18, 2015
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control released a statement concerning the incident. The officers involved are being restricted to administrative duties as the investigation moves forward.
“The individual was charged with Public Intoxication and Obstruction of Justice in an incident that occurred at approximately 12:45 a.m. on March 18 in the 1500 block of University Avenue,” the statement read. “The uniformed ABC agents observed and approached the individual after he was refused entry to a licensed establishment. 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.”