The Cavalier Daily
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BLACK DOT: What Martese's arrest means for us

Will this University community survive?

Will the University withstand the lash of the whip of incident after incident as it terrorizes the hearts of thousands of students? Moreover, how can the black community heal during this crisis with our security, our humanity at stake? We must put an end to this Jeffersonian tradition of racial injustice.

On Wednesday morning around 12:45 a.m. our friend, our brother, Martese Johnson, was brutalized by Virginia State Alcoholic Beverage Control officers outside of Trinity Irish Pub. As his body was wrangled, twisted and animalized with brutish force, his blood stained the cold brick. As his blood pooled, tears of pain and concern from the surrounding crowd followed. Screams of anger and confusion saturated the air of the night, subsuming the background music of the bar. We all asked how could this happen here? We are students of the University of Virginia, yet officers sworn to protect us, officers who live on the tax dollars we provide, abuse us. We cried out for help, but we were left without reply.

In many ways, the physical pain Martese endured that night has left an open wound on the hearts of our people — again. The physical bruises that mark his body, perhaps scars that will never fade, invoke the emotions of the black student body. Only time will heal the ugly scar that this incident has left on the community. This trauma will follow us into the classroom, a distraction that does not burden the majority of our non-black peers. However, the indelible truth is that we will go on; we will arise. We are strong, and that strength comes from the brotherly and sisterly love that pervades our community.

In these tragic times, we have been able to turn to one another for solace. In the midst of the chaos and the mourning, we continue to mobilize. In solidarity, we are wrestling with the devastating reality that our blackness is persecuted, beaten and tortured. No longer will we go unheard. No longer will we accept complacency with the status quo. We will not allow for the University to continue to operate under the erroneous presumption that race is no longer an issue. Nevertheless, change is imminent. We have been heard. Organizations and supporters across the nation have received our outcry. Black students and allies are more determined than ever to fulfill our roles as the keepers of a strong tradition of black fortitude.

We have been empowered by the outpouring of love and encouragement from fellow students around the country. From our brothers and sisters in Blacksburg and Richmond, to our friends and family in Norfolk, who stand prepared to defend our unified interest, we thank you. Furthermore, to the thousands of concerned and invested individuals who have demonstrated their love through social media and other mediums, we need your continued support to uplift and rebuild. It is with love for this University and our community that we embark on this mission.

As W.E.B. Du Bois once said, “There is in this world no such force as the force of a person determined to rise. The human soul cannot be permanently chained.”

Sincerely,

Concerned Black Students

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