Yesha Callahan

UVA Students Rally To Protest Beating of Martese Johnson

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Martese Johnson, a 20-year-old honor student, at University of Virginia was brutally beaten on Wednesday by two ABC officers after he tried to enter a bar with a fake ID. Video captured of his beating shows he attempted to tell the officers that he was a student at UVA, but they didn’t care.

In an interview with NBC12, Brinaka Scott, a friend of Johnson, said she saw the whole incident unfold.

“We were all just shocked because it was Martese. He is not a forceful person. He’s not violent at all,” Scott told NBC 12.

Last night hundreds of students gathered on UVA’s campus in sign of solidarity for Johnson. Johnson gave a short speech during the event as well:


UVA president Teresa Sullivan wants everyone who witnessed the incident to come forward.

In a statement, Sullivan says eyewitnesses will play an essential role in shedding light on what happened early this morning. She’s asking anyone with direct knowledge to call Virginia State police at 1-877-482-84-77.

Sullivan ended, “We stand unified in our commitment to seeking the truth about this incident.”

UPDATED UVA President Teresa Sullivan Statement

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

I write to express my deep concern about an incident that occurred on The Corner early this morning and to provide information about immediate steps that I have taken in response.

At about 12:45 a.m., one of our students was injured while Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents were attempting to take him into custody on the sidewalk in front of Trinity Irish Pub. University Police and Charlottesville Police arrived on the scene shortly after the incident occurred. We have not yet clarified all of the details surrounding this event, but we are seeking to do so as quickly as possible.

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.

Teresa A. Sullivan President

  1. March 19, 2015 - Reply

    As a black student at UVA, we’re rallying and supporting Martese. He’s a friend of mine and I’m so disgusted that this happened to him.

  2. March 19, 2015 - Reply

    sounds like the pres is doing the right thing by calling in investigations all the way up to the governor’s office & asking for all the witnesses to come forward. martese is not the 1st, last, or only college kid to try & sneak in a club before his age. i tried to do it when i was in college & the worst i got was some snickering from the crowd when the bouncers turned us away. there’s no reason for a 20-y/o kid to walk away bloody for trying to sneak a beer.

  3. March 19, 2015 - Reply

    I have spent my entire adult life, except one year, on college campuses. There is absolutely no reason to beat up a kid over an ID unless he took a swing and connected upside a cop’s head. That goes double since he was taken in by two cops.

  4. March 19, 2015 - Reply

    … this kid was being arrested, he says repeatedly, How could this happen?, and, I go to UVA. The implication clearly being that certainly a UVA student doesn’t get THAT kind of treatment, do they?

  5. March 19, 2015 - Reply

    There should be a thorough, independent investigation to find the facts. Martese’s face have suffered a lot of bleeding and the pictures of the man being injured are very disturbing. Some ABC Officers had to pay a settlement to Elizabeth Daly for its usage of excessive force. Things must change in our society. Many cops have impunity to literally kill people. In society, cops are readily given the benefit of the doubt at any circumstance. Eyewitnesses should tell their stories as well and we all deserve the truth. The protesters have every right to speak their minds and to proclaim the truth that Black Lives Matter.

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