The story of Martese Johnson has spread across Twitter with a viral campaign looking for answers as to why the young black student at the University of Virginia was brutalized by authorities.
Johnson was allegedly in possession of a fake ID when police assailed him outside of a pub on St. Patrick’s Day. A cellphone video was taken by a witness, and it has since climbed to nearly 1 million views on YouTube.
Furthermore, Twitter users have launched a campaign on that platform.
Johnson was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, obstructing justice without threats of force, and profane swearing or intoxication in public, according to the Cavalier Daily.
While his face was a mask of blood from the images released and the cellphone video, he reportedly received only 10 stitches in the attack. All officers involved appeared to be white.
A statement was later released by authorities explaining the shocking incident.
“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.”
Word of warning: the nature and the language of this video are extremely NSFW as Martese Johnson, appearing to be in great distress as he’s cuffed by three officers, screams “You f***in’ racists!” repeatedly.
Students have rallied behind Martese as he seeks answers for what happened.
— Alex Lewis (@allexlewis) March 18, 2015
The tweets eventually prompted officials from the University of Virginia to release 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. 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.
The letter was signed by Marcus L. Martin, Vice President for Diversity & Equity and Professor of Emergency Medicine, as well as Maurice Apprey, Dean, African-American Affairs and Professor of Psychiatry.
What do you think from looking at the evidence, readers? Was Martese Johnson a victim of police brutality? Share your thoughts in the comments section.