Martese Johnson: UVA Student's Bloody Arrest Triggers Campus Outrage

The student addresses rally held on school grounds over his case.

The student, Martese Johnson, 20, participated in a rally Wednesday night with thousands of students in the university's amphitheater at the center of campus. He was seen wiping away tears and then taking the microphone himself at the emotionally charged gathering.

"I want the remainder of students out there to be able to share their opinions and share their feelings. I beg for you guys, regardless of your personal opinions and the way you feel about subjects, to please respect everyone here," Johnson said. "We are all part of one community and we deserve to respect each other, especially in times like this. Thank you."

President Teresa Sullivan did not address the group at the rally but did briefly speak to reporters about the incident that another school official had described as "appalling."

"My heart went out to him," Sullivan said. "I thought about how I would feel if I were his mother."

The agents approached Johnson and “a determination was made” to arrest him, at which time “the arrested individual sustained injuries,” according to a statement by Alcoholic Beverage Control, which is charged with enforcing alcohol laws in Virginia.

Cellphone video shows Johnson lying face down on the sidewalk with two agents detaining him as bystanders yell, “His head is bleeding!” From another angle, Johnson, who is black, is shown with his face bloodied, shouting, “I go to UVA!” and then “You f****** racists!”

He was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice, Alcoholic Beverage Control officials said. They would not comment on the case beyond details of the arrest, adding, "The individual received treatment for his injuries at a local hospital and was released."

“This was wrong and should not have occurred,” Martin and Apprey wrote. “We view the nature of this assault as highly unusual and appalling based on the information we have received."

The governor asked the state police to begin an independent investigation into the incident.

On Wednesday night, Johnson joined a large group of students gathered on campus at a rally.

Daniel Watkins, an attorney for Johnson, said in a statement that Charlottesville Police charged Johnson with two misdemeanors: obstruction of justice without force and profane swearing and/or intoxication in public. The student was released early Wednesday and did not immediately enter a plea to the charges.

"Just before handcuffing him, police took Martese to the ground, striking his head on the pavement and causing him to bleed profusely from the gash on his head,” Watkins said Wednesday. “This morning he received ten stitches at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Fortunately, Martese’s physical wounds are beginning to heal.”

He added: "He holds numerous leadership positions on grounds, including Vice Chair for Community Relations of the Honor Committee, Vice Polemarch of the Eta Sigma Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, and a Chair of the Leadership Development Committee of the Black Student Alliance. He has no criminal record."

Virginia Alcoholic Alcoholic Beverage Control said that it was restricting the special agents involved in the incident to administrative duties while the investigation was underway.

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