UVa Protests Student's 'Appalling' Arrest

He was slammed to the ground by alcohol agents
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2015 2:44 AM CDT
Updated Mar 19, 2015 8:00 AM CDT
UVA Protests Student's 'Appalling' Arrest
Martese Johnson is held down by an officer, Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Charlottesville, Va.   (AP Photo/Bryan Beaubrun)

It was a "highly unusual and appalling" incident, the University of Virginia's president says. Officials are investigating the arrest early yesterday of a 20-year-old black student who needed 10 stitches in his head after being wrestled to the ground by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents, ABC reports. Martese Johnson's head was "slammed into the hard pavement with excessive force," UVa President Teresa Sullivan said in a message to students. "This was wrong and should not have happened." Johnson—a third-year student who holds several leadership roles on campus, according to CNN—was charged with public intoxication or swearing and obstruction of justice after the incident outside the Trinity Irish Pub near campus.

After the "unprovoked" arrest, "officers continued to hold him to the pavement, pinning him down, twisting his arm, with knees to his back until he was handcuffed," the Black Dot advocacy group said in a statement to the Cavalier Daily. "As students pleaded with officers to lift Martese from the ground they were pushed away, and some were even handcuffed and threatened with possible arrest if they did not leave the scene." Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has called for an investigation into the arrest, which more than 1,000 students protested last night, the AP reports. Johnson thanked attendees for their support, saying, "You being here is the reason why I still believe in the community of trust, even with a busted head standing here on this stage," the Cavalier reports. (More University of Virginia stories.)

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