Community Leaders: Charlottesville Needs to Address Racism
African-American leaders say the violence around the Johnson's arrest is shocking and disturbing for the city and the university.
"Well the pictures don't look well at all. I mean, I think we all can attest to that," said community activist Wes Bellamy, referencing an image that shows Johnson on the ground with a bloody face.
Bellamy says neither the UVA student, nor anyone, should experience this sort of treatment.
"I've known Martese for a couple of years now. He's a fine young man and individual whose heart really goes out to the community," he said.
Pastor Hodari Hamilton, another community leader, says any event that appears to have racial discrimination speaks for itself and that's why people are outraged.
"We need to face prejudice. We need to face brutality, particularly from trained or untrained officers," he said.
Pastor Hamilton says Charlottesville isn't immune to events with traces of race violence.
"I don't think most people recognize that this is an issue that affects Charlottesville. So in the words of one of the students, it sucks that we have to be proven right," he stated.
Hamilton and Bellamy both say it will take the community and students coming together and protesting however they see fit to address the issues or racism that are surrounding Martese Johnson's arrest.
Charlottesville City Sheriff James Brown released a statement Thursday, urging people to protest peacefully and to trust that the State Police's investigation into the ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) agents actions will be fair and thorough.
“I know that we can learn from these tough times and bring our community together," Bellamy said.
Press release from Charlottesville City Sheriff James Brown III:
An investigation is underway by the State Police regarding the incident involving the ABC agents and Martese Johnson. The ABC agents are state agents and do not answer to local Police Departments or Sheriff's Offices, however I have been in touch with others about the investigation. Because the investigation is pending I will not be able to comment much, but do not take a lack of numerous public comments on my part as a lack of activity or lack of concern that this matter be resolved in a proper, timely, and fair manner. At this time, I urge people to keep protests peaceful. With the many witnesses, there should be a very accurate final report from the State Police, hopefully much sooner than later. Thank you.