A recent article by BBC News captured the incident of 20-year old Martese Johnson being involved with the state of Virginia’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) agents. The article uses photographs to show Johnson’s condition after the incident and includes contrasting perspectives of the incident from Johnson’s friend, Bryan Beaubran, and  ABC. The incident revolves around the fact that Johnson was allegedly “agitated and belligerent (BBC)” enough after being denied entry into a bar, that he required detainment and physical force from the ABC. It is evident that although the article provides information from a variety of sources, the validity of reason and motive beyond Johnson’s arrest remains unclear rather pointing to the arrest as an act of anti-black violence.

BBC conveys the incident in ways that reduce putting the ABC at risk. The BBC article claims “ABC arrested Martese Johnson (BBC)”. By using the term “arrested”, BBC indicates that Johnson was only arrested and nothing else happened. This indication does not shed light on the importance of the matter, showing an ignorance to the situation at hand. BBC is not focusing on what else happened such as, how Johnson was beat or the steps that the ABC took in approaching Johnson before “arresting (BBC)” him. The company chooses not to go into detail about the incident, as though nothing other than Johnson being “arrested” took place when in reality, he was brutally beat and subject to punishment for an unclear reason. BBC, for a lack of better words, sugarcoats the situation and reports the article to sound as though the ABC is not at fault, showing a bias towards the matter. Similarly to the purpose of using the term “arrested”, BBC states, “a video and photos of Mr Johnson covered in blood and being pushed to the ground were widely circulated (BBC)”. This statement ignores addressing how Johnson became covered in blood and who pushed him to the ground. By delivering the statement this way, BBC avoids expressing themselves as though they believe that the ABC is at fault in any way whatsoever. It was the doing of the ABC that result in Johnson being hurt, but BBC avoids addressing that because it brings up the idea as to whether the ABC’s actions were justifiable or not.

It is obvious that how the ABC agents treated Johnson is an example of anti-black violence. In any other circumstance, the approach on Johnson would have been considered “attack” or “harassment” but instead it is being called “arrest” because of the authority of the ABC. The ABC is powerful and due to white hegemony, they believe that they are superior to black community and individuals such as Johnson. Anti-black violence has occurred on several accounts where white people of authority harm and abuse black individuals. This is exactly what happened when the ABC agents victimized Johnson. The ABC has the influence of the mass media such as BBC (another capital corporation controlled by white individuals) supporting them by BBC not accusing them of having done anything wrong. To bring rise to the importance of how Johnson was victimized, the article stated, “Beaubrun said the police acted with unnecessary force (BBC)”. Beaubrun was the only witness at the incident. The ABC agents are supposed to “focus on alcohol-related violations but are considered state-wide police officers with authority to arrest (BBC)” as described in the article; this does not constitute that they approached him because of alcohol but indirectly says that they have others authoritative means to. The article describes Johnson as being “tackled (BBC)” and interestingly, the ABC and BBC sources did not deny that. By not denying tackling Johnson, the ABC indirectly admits to attacking him to a certain degree. The BBC described the cause of the scene, “after he was refused entry to a licensed establishment. (BBC)” This description does not justify that Johnson was agitated or needed to be detained, but the ABC further continued to beat him, because of no other reason other than the fact that he is black. This act of violence is an example of institutional racism initiated by the criminal justice system.

The oppression blacks face due to white hegemony is unacceptable. As a result of the doings of the ABC for what reason is unclear, Johnson suffered having “his face bruised and covered in stitches. (BBC)” BBC declared that, “Mr Johnson was charged with obstruction of justice without force, and public swearing and intoxication (BBC)” and was the victim of an undeserved accusation when the only lawful charge should have been pressed on the ABC for assault and battery. Johnson defends his innocence and proves himself a more righteous person than those who attacked him by saying, “I beg for you guys to please respect everyone here,” Mr Johnson told the crowd. “We really are one community. (BBC)”

WORKS CITED

“Virginia Governor Calls for Inquiry into Student Arrest.” BBC News. The BBC, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31965856&gt;.

~ JEC

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