Martese Johnson

I don’t usually talk about the police brutality that surrounds this generation, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel it. It’s hard for me to process and comprehend the scrutiny people of color are under constantly and it is especially difficult because I am surrounded by people that can’t even begin to understand what it is like to be a minority in this country. My heart aches for the Trayvon Martin’s and the Michael Brown’s and the Eric Gardner’s. No man is deserving of what they endured. No one period.

Martese Johnson is an honor student, a man of Kappa Alpha Psi, the latest victim of police brutality, and my friend. If you looked him up on google prior to yesterday’s events all you would see is articles on the scholarships he’s been awarded, how active he is on his campus, and pictures of his goofy grin and nice bowties. If you look him up now, you see articles of this act of brutality, the graphic video of his arrest, and the terrifying picture of him being pinned down by cops and covered in his own blood. It’s different when it’s someone you know… it’s different when it’s someone you love, someone you can attach memories and emotions to. I saw the hurt on his face as he sat in the back of the ambulance, shackled like a prisoner, and felt that in my chest. I heard him cry out “how did this happen?!” as blood dripped down his face and I lost all feeling in my body.


Boogie, as he is known by close friends and loved ones, has been nothing but a positive influence for as long as I’ve known him. His ambition and desire to beat the stereotypes in front of him as a Chicago youth has always inspired me. He worked to get into his dream schools USC and UVa. He worked for his Nordstrom Scholarship. He worked to be a positive influence and set an example for younger boys in the city. I’ve always admired his honesty and his desire to be the most upstanding man he could be. I’ve always known he was destined for greatness… maybe this is where it all begins.

Let me reiterate–absolutely NO ONE deserves to be brutalized and treated like an animal. It doesn’t matter if he was a “thug” or a scholar. It doesn’t matter if he was using a fake ID or not. It doesn’t matter if he was wearing a hoodie or not. It doesn’t matter if he was allegedly selling loose cigarettes or not. None of that should matter, but every thing they try to say when a young black man is in this situation is invalid. There is no way to paint Martese as the big scary black man, a kid with a troubled past, or a gangster. He is everything they claim should save him, and it didn’t.

Martese Johnson needed 10 stitches to the head, but those stitches aren’t going to heal the devastation he feels. He loves UVa more than anything and that love is represented by those UVa students who are fighting for him. The love he spread growing up in Chicago is represented by those friends from home who are fighting for him. That love is represented by me.

I stand behind my good friend as he fights for his justice.

They messed with the wrong black man.


Martese Johnson
Martese Johnson

2 thoughts on “Martese Johnson

  1. Gabby, this felt like the words were poured directly from the very depths of your heart. My vocabulary is inadequate to tell you how great this was. Bless you, Martese, and all of our young people in these troubled times.

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