Justice for Martese Johnson: UVa Student Arrested, Allegedly Beaten by Police Officers (Video)

March 18, 2015 Updated: March 19, 2015

Users on Twitter were calling for “justice for” Martese Johnson, a member of the University of Virginia Black Student Alliance, on Wednesday after photos of his arrest were published online.

Johnson, 20, was apparently left bloodied by Virginia ABC police as he was arrested near a pub on the corner, Virginia’s The Daily Progress reported. He was charged at 4 a.m. with misdemeanor obstruction of justice without force and public swearing and intoxication. He was released on $1,500 bond.

The University of Virginia Black Student Alliance Facebook page detailed the alleged beating, saying Johnson, a honor committee student, needed 10 stitches.

Later, the term #JusticeforMartese trended on Twitter.

A video screenshot shows UVa student Martese Johnson’s arrest (YouTube screenshot)

The Alliance wrote on Facebook: “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,” it added.

Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a statement on the incident, saying he’s “concerned” by it.

“Governor McAuliffe is concerned by the reports of this incident and has asked the Secretary of Public Safety to initiate an independent Virginia State Police investigation into the use of force in this matter,” spokesman Bryan Coy told Newsplex. “The Governor’s office has been in contact with University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan and local law enforcement and will continue to monitor this situation closely as the investigation proceeds.” 

A video of the arrest was also released (via The Cavalier Daily), as seen below:

“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,” the Alliance said.

Here’s the full University of Virginia Black Student Alliance post on Facebook:



University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan also issued a statement on Wednesday on the matter, and she said:

This morning I met with Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo and University Police Chief Mike Gibson in an effort to learn more about the incident. Furthermore, because ABC is a state agency, I contacted the Governor’s office to ask for an independent investigation of the incident. In response, the Governor has asked the Secretary of Public Safety to initiate an independent Virginia State Police investigation into the use of force in this matter.

As the investigation unfolds, eyewitnesses will play an essential role in shedding light on the details of this incident. I urge students and other members of our community who witnessed the incident or have other direct knowledge of it to come forward. Please contact the Virginia State Police at 804-674-2000 immediately.

The safety and security of our students will always be my primary concern, and every member of our community should feel safe from the threat of bodily harm and other forms of violence. Today, as U.Va. students, faculty, and staff who share a set of deeply held values, we stand unified in our commitment to seeking the truth about this incident. And we stand united in our belief that equal treatment and equal justice are among our fundamental rights under the law.