Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz downplayed the bloody arrest and subsequent national media coverage of a black University of Virginia (UVA) student, arrested during an alleged dispute over his ID, claiming “such arrests are common in this college town.”
The Washington Post reported that Virginia's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is under scrutiny after the violent arrest of UVA student Martese Johnson, who “sustained head injuries that left him with bloody streaks down his face” following St. Patrick's Day celebrations near the UVA campus in Charlottesville. Photos of Johnson's bloody face sparked widespread outrage and protests over the use of excessive police force.
During a segment on March 20 edition of Special Report, Kurtz criticized the national media attention claiming that this was a local story with “no evidence that race was a factor” in the arrest. Kurtz later downplayed the arrest as typical, asserting that “bartenders tell us such arrests are common in this college town.”
According to a statement released by UVA officials, the arrest and injuries sustained by Johnson are described as “excessive force” and “highly unusual” (emphasis added):
This African American male student was injured on the Corner, after being stopped by Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) officers. His head was slammed into the hard pavement with excessive force. The student required medical evaluation and treatment at the UVa Hospital Emergency Department. This was wrong and should not have occurred. In the many years of our medical, professional and leadership roles at the University, we view the nature of this assault as highly unusual and appalling based on the information we have received.
The arrest has prompted the Governor of Virginia and local prosecutors to request a “comprehensive investigation” by State Police.