Martese Johnson takes mic at UVA rally

Published: Mar. 19, 2015 at 1:19 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 19, 2015 at 11:00 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) - Outrage is spreading across the UVA campus, over the bloody arrest of honor student Martese Johnson. The 20-year-old can be seen in a cell phone video gone viral, being held on the ground by ABC agents. The altercation is now at the center of a police brutality investigation, called for by the governor.

UVA protesters marched the streets surrounding campus chanting "shut it down" and "black lives matter." Before that, hours of rallying went on at the university's outside amphitheater.

Martese Johnson himself took the mic, speaking to everyone when things got a bit heated.

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

Students called for an end to racism and prejudice which they say they feel not only on campus, but in everyday life in our society. Students shared emotional accounts of how they say they've been mistreated because of their race.

Brinaka Scott is a friend of Martese Johnson, and says she watched him get arrested outside the Trinity Bar.

Scott says she walked to the bar and was shocked to see Johnson on the ground in handcuffs.

"We were all just shocked because it was Martese. He is not a forceful person. He's not violent at all," said Scott.

The protesters called for action, ultimately taking to the streets. Demonstrators chanted in intersections at University Avenue, urging the University President and other school leadership to take a strong stand.

Meantime, UVA president Teresa Sullivan urged anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward.

In a statement, Sullivan says eyewitnesses will play an essential role in shedding light on what happened early this morning. She's asking anyone with direct knowledge to call Virginia State police at 1-877-482-84-77.

Sullivan ends her statement by saying quote, "We stand unified in our commitment to seeking the truth about this incident."

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