University of Virginia student Martese Johnson injured during arrest

Thursday, March 19, 2015
Former classmates call for justice after violent arrest
Former classmates showed support for the University of Virginia student here in Chicago as they call for justice after he's injured during an arrest.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- University of Virginia students are calling for justice after Martese Johnson, who graduated from Kenwood Academy in 2012, was injured during an arrest.

There are questions about how police treated the 20-year-old man when he was taken into custody early Wednesday morning.

Video shows the UVA honor student getting slammed into the ground and bloodied during an arrest by alcoholic beverage control agents. It happened during St. Patrick's Day celebrations outside an Irish pub in Charlottesville, Va.

VIDEO: UVA student 'shocked' by violent arrest

The arresting agency said the uniformed agents approached Johnson after he was refused entry to the licensed establishment. The agent who made the arrest, listed in court records as J. Miller, said in the arrest report that Johnson "was very agitated and belligerent."

Johnson, a third-year UVA student majoring in Italian and Media studies, was charged with obstruction of justice without force and public swearing or intoxication.

Martese Johnson, 20.
Photo courtesy of the University of Virginia

Martese Johnson, 20. (Photo courtesy of the University of Virginia)

A statement from a group calling itself "Concerned Black Students" said Johnson's arrest was unprovoked and extreme. Johnson's lawyer, Daniel P. Watkins, said he needed 10 stitches.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe launched an independent investigation into the agents' use of force. The agents involved in the incident were put on administrative duties as the investigation continues.

UVA President Theresa Sullivan said she was disturbed by the video.

"I hate to see something bad happen to any of my students, whether it's on the football field or something like this. My heart went out to him. I thought how I would feel if I was his mother," Sullivan said.

About 1,000 students protested on campus Wednesday night. The angry crowds called for an end to alleged police brutality.

"Regardless of your personal opinions and the way you feel about subjects, please respect everyone here. We're all part of one community. We deserve to respect each other especially in times like this," Johnson said at the rally.

Meanwhile, former Kenwood Academy students are showing support for Johnson in Chicago by distributing fliers with "#JUSTICEFORMARTESE" on them.

"He always put on a smile and was just very nice and kind to everybody," said Kameron Jones, a Kenwood Academy student.

"We're all just shocked, and we're trying to figure out what can we do to stop this," said Amber Echols, a former classmate.

Sean Shelton, a Kenwood Academy student, says Johnson was his mentor.

"We're all young black men on our way to greatness, and the people that are supposed to serve and protect us are those taking our lives and hurting us for no apparent reason," Shelton said.

Rodney Gore of the Kappa Leadership Institute mentoring program - which Johnson participated in - says his arrest was unprovoked and extreme.

"This is a young man who has always been about making the right choices, making the right decisions. So yes, I'm outraged," Gore said.

Watkins said Johnson is devastated by the events. Watkins is preparing a vigorous defense for his client, who he said has no criminal record.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.