Supporters have donated thousands of dollars to Martese Johnson through a crowdfunding campaign started in honor of the black student from the University of Virginia whose arrest last week has raised an outcry among students and nationwide. The money will help pay for Johnson’s legal and medical expenses, organizers said.
A group called UVA Alumni for Change and Johnson’s fraternity brothers from Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. started a fundraising page on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo during the weekend. The page had earned nearly $10,000 in contributions from more than 150 donors by Monday night. In the coming month, the groups hope to raise $50,000 for Johnson.
Johnson’s head was slammed into the pavement outside a bar in Charlottesville March 17 while being arrested amid concerns about his ID by three police officers affiliated with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. He required 10 stitches. Graphic photos and videos of the bloody arrest have helped Johnson’s story spread rapidly through social media by use of the hashtag #JusticeforMartese. The officers’ conduct has been criticized by UVA’s vice president and dean, who issued a joint statement in support of Johnson.
Johnson was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice, according to a statement issued by the agency shortly after the incident. His lawyer has said Johnson plans to plead not guilty to both charges in a scheduled court appearance Thursday.
If the Indiegogo campaign raises more than its intended goal of $50,000, the organizers said they will work with Johnson to put the extra money toward, “scholarships, education efforts, legal defense funds for students in need and other organizations or causes of his choosing.” Most donors who have pledged so far have given $20 to $100, though one offered $500 and another gave $1,000.
A GoFundMe campaign for Johnson was also launched and has already reached its stated goal of raising $5,000, but the legitimacy of the effort could not be confirmed by Johnson’s lawyers.