Yes, Let’s Investigate ABC Incident

Governor Terry McAuliffe did the right thing by promptly demanding an investigation into an arrest by ABC special agents of a black University of Virginia student that resulted in a head injury requiring 10 stitches. In the racially inflamed atmosphere we live in today, fueled by national news coverage of deaths of young black men at the hands of white police, emotions are running high. Nobody wants this incident to turn into another Ferguson.

On the one hand, Virginians are rightly concerned about the behavior of ABC agents, who caused a furor last year when they arrested Elizabeth Daly, a white University of Virginia student on the mistaken premise that she was carrying a case of beer. One agent drew a gun and another tried to shatter a window in her car with a flashlight. Citizens rightly wonder if last night’s arrest of Martese R. Johnson was a similar case of excess force.

On the other hand, we need to know all the facts. Martin, who was arrested outside a bar at 12:45 a.m., was charged with obstruction of justice and profane swearing or resisting arrest. It appears from news accounts — and, as we know from the UVa rape case, all news accounts should be considered preliminary and incomplete, and YouTube videos can miss important context — that Martin was intoxicated and resisted arrest. He banged his head on the ground when ABC agents took  him to the ground before handcuffing him. “I go to U.Va., you [expletive] racists,” he yelled, as blood flowed from his cut. “How did this happen?”

As with the UVA rape case, we should refrain from speculation on the basis of incomplete knowledge. Let’s wait for the facts to come in before drawing conclusions.


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22 responses to “Yes, Let’s Investigate ABC Incident”

  1. I worry that we have folks in policing roles that should not be doing that job.

    many of these incidents, after investigated, come down – not to a guy (or gal) that had an otherwise exemplary record and just had an isolated bad day.

    it ends up being a guy/gal who already had some issues and was kept on the force – in some respects – like a ticking time bomb.

    so you put cameras on them and guess what – the ones that you really should be watching – turn off their cameras.

    that ought to be tantamount to a firing offense when there is an incident and the camera has been turned off – or use cameras that cannot be turned off.

    but this is not a problem with individuals – it’s a pattern across many police forces that continue to allow folks to be in their employ that should not be.

    it’s more or less systemic… and for some reason it, more often than not, involves a black person as the victim… way more often than it should.

    so this is not really about “investigating” incidents as it is about why we are having them over and over…

    1. Larry, you’re already jumping to conclusions, making this a racial issue, based on incomplete evidence. The previous incident with the Charlottesville ABC police involved a white woman. Why would you bring Martese’s race into it? When we know more, perhaps we’ll reach that conclusion. But it’s also possible when we know more that we’ll conclude that Martese was intoxicated, belligerent and crying “racist” for no justificiation. Given how high emotions are running, it is irresponsible to speculate either way.

      1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

        Odd, I don’t seem to recall blood streaming down Elizabeth Daly’s face after her head getting cracked against a sidewalk.

        1. Odd, I don’t seem to recall Elizabeth Daly resisting arrest.

          1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

            She literally fled the scene in her car and in the process struck two officers. Try again.

  2. Les Schreiber Avatar
    Les Schreiber

    Arrested for drinking at UVA. I thought it was a graduation requirement!

  3. As much as we wish to have a comfortably ordered world where we can identify people by their labels and make assumptions about them, life is more complex. Not all cops get it right every time. Being a UVA student does not mean that you cannot be a rapist, or a disorderly, underage drunk. Driving while black is not criminal. Having a racist moment may not make one a racist

    Americans today seem to want a binary outlook on everything, to make it easier to navigate. I’m a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fan. Not every incident of law enforcement that gets rough is undue police brutality, and not every brutality is race-based. Each incident needs to be evaluated individually which is, unfortunately, much less convenient.

  4. mindful Avatar

    There is at least one alternative explanation that I can think of: townies resenting entitlement attitude of some (many?) UVa students.

    1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

      And there are certainly no compounding stereotypes about black citizens and entitlement.

      1. mindful Avatar

        I am not defending the actions of the ABC police. I was merely suggesting another rationale for their behavior. Not everything is about racism.

        And the stereotypes about young black men that I am familiar with have little to do with entitlement.

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Good post, Jim. Speaking as a Hoo parent, I can’t believe all the grief that school has been through with the Graham murder and the Rolling Stone article and the wacky firing and rehiring of President Sullivan who took the right steps in this most recent case.

  6. One thing that seems missing from this thread is the proliferation of governmental armed police forces. I had thought for example that the VA ABC was involved in selling/regulating the sale of alcoholic products. Should they have arrest powers. After all just in Virginia, in addition we have city, campus, county, state, Capitol Hill, SCOP, etc. police forces ad infinitum.

    Then we read about USDA or was it USPS “Police” buying hollow-nosed rounds and that Homeland Security now have their own police. ICE and some others having arrest powers makes sense but where do we draw the line?

    Is there a well thought-out coordinated approach to having so many police?

    Are we ALREADY a “Police State”?

  7. Refrain from jumping to conclusions my ass.

    The jack booted numbskulls from the ABC Keystone Cops went after Elizabeth Daly for buying a six pack of water!

    Our utterly worthless and useless General Assembly did nothing to rein in these clowns. Now, they’re beating the crap out of some kid with no criminal record. He was charged with “resisting arrest, obstructing justice without threats of force”. Does that sound like it deserves a good old fashioned head cracking?

    The General Assembly, despite their phony reverence for the founding fathers, has a very undemocratic monopoly on power with no efective checks and balances and no effective separation of powers.

    1. Only state where the governor can’t seek a second consecutive term.
    2. Hardest state for an independent candidate to get on the ballot.
    3. One of two states which keep voter turnout down through off year elections.
    4. One of only four states that have no limits whatsoever on campaign contributions.
    5. Fifth most Gerrymandered state.
    6. Least competitive state legislative elections (per Ballotopia)
    7. So strict an implementation of Dillon’s Rule that localities must ask permission to let the grass grow in median strips beyond Clown Show standards.
    8. Only state that lets its legislature elect judges with no independent review by anybody.

    So, let’s see … the executive branch is neutered by a one term limit, the judicial branch is compromised by being elected by the legislature they are meant to check, independent candidates are kept off the ballots through red tape, voting is discouraged through off year elections, there are no citizen generated referenda nor recall provisions and localities have to ask “Mommy Richmond” for permission to cut the grass.

    The General Assembly is THE problem.

    When you monopolize power you must also monopolize accountability. The asshats in the General Assembly want all the power and none of the accountability.

    The ABC Keystone Cops overreacted in the past. The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond did nothing. I’ll wager they overreacted again. Want to bet whether the Clowns take action this time? Here’s a hint – the former governor is awaiting an incarceration date and there has been no meaningful ethics reform.

    It’s time to THROW THE BUMS OUT.

    Our General Assembly sucks out loud.

  8. I agree with JohnB, the issue here is the militarization of our police force(s) and their increasing detachment from (civilian) reality. I have a lot of sympathy for those ex-armed-forces individuals who have to deal with PTSD issues and all, but gathering a bunch of them into a military-weapons-equipped force intended to police my and my children’s behavior under vague laws applied randomly at their discretion is, frankly, scary.

    1. yes.. they are more and more like para-military and it seems they have the wrong kind of folks during the work … and then it gets papered over by calling it Community Policing.. not on foot.. heavily armed … with the express intent of intimidating folks …that the police are saying “should be intimidated”.

  9. NoVaShenandoah Avatar

    Is the force used commensurate with the suspected offense? It seems to me that the ‘authorities’ feel that there is no limit to the amount of force that cay be applied, regardless of the suspected offense. Is it time for us, who the authorities presumably serve, to assume the worse about any interaction with the authorities, and act in that vein?

    I take exception to the article: there is far too much violence and mayhem being spread by the authorities; and far too much shooting.

    1. I think that is an excellent point and that along with the militarization of the police is a problem.

      There is an attitude among police that if they tell you to get on the ground and you don’t do it or do it quick enough , they allows them to beat the tar out of you. And for some reason – it seems to happen these days more with blacks than whites… then the “blacks are inclined to be criminals” element gets involved and folks like O’Reilly stir the pot further.

  10. Agreed — the para-militarization of the police should worry us all.

    1. there’s a moral to this story about government… and where is the tea party?

  11. newmann Avatar

    They’re busy arming themselves, which begs the question whether there is a direct connection between the increased militarization of the police and the increasingly well armed civilian population.

    Local police forces in at least half the country have been ‘militarizing’ themselves, since the 80s if not befoe, primarily because the Pentagon allows surplus weapons to be ‘transferred’ in their budgets to local police. Change that law, close the loophole, and the endless supply of surplus weapons eventually dries up – if only there were the political will to do so.

    However, I suspect that as long as police feel a need to ‘protect’ themselves from armed civilians, nothing will change and the stand-off will continue.

  12. newmann Avatar

    ps As Acbar alludes to, the problem of the ‘warrior cop’only exacerbates the problem because many of the police themselves are indeed ex-warriors, straight off the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan, where by training, they are conditioned to shoot first, ask questions later… Don’t have any actual numbers (nation or state-wide) but this is a real and growing problem,,,,,,,,

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