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Protests, Investigations Follow Bloody UVA Arrest

PHOTO: The arrest of an African-American University of Virginia student is sparking protests and investigations in Charlottesville. Photo courtesy of the U.VA. Black Student Alliance.
PHOTO: The arrest of an African-American University of Virginia student is sparking protests and investigations in Charlottesville. Photo courtesy of the U.VA. Black Student Alliance.
March 20, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. - Public concern and outrage are rising after the bloody arrest of an African-American University of Virginia student.

Martese Johnson was injured while being taken into custody just before 1 a.m. Wednesday. By Wednesday night, as many as 1,000 people, mostly UVA students, were rallying in protest. Posts on social media suggest more to come.

David Swanson, a UVA alum living in Charlottesville who took part in the demonstration Wednesday, said he expects some kind of protest at a previously scheduled Board of Visitors meeting on campus next Tuesday.

"The individual with the stitches was arrested. The people responsible for the violence were not arrested," he said. "The Board of Visitors meeting will not happen without some communication from people who are outraged."

In what apparently started with a dispute about his ID outside a bar, the third-year student's head struck the pavement. His wound required 10 stitches.

Johnson is formally accused of nonviolently resisting arrest, among other charges. One witness account in the press describes him as pulling away from the white Alcoholic Beverage Control officer holding his arm. According to the charges filed by the officers, Johnson also was swearing and intoxicated, and was "very agitated and belligerent." A video of the event shows him cursing at the officers and accusing them of racism while lying on the pavement face down, handcuffed and bleeding.

Swanson said UVA and the region have a racially charged history that give the event some context. The area, he said, is "where blacks were only admitted when it was required, women were only admitted when it was required, where the public schools were shut down so that even the white students wouldn't go rather than integrate."

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has asked the State Police to investigate.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA