American Horror Story: An Early Assessment of the Martese Johnson situation

No matter who you are or where you’re from, no parent wants to get an early morning phone call about their kid being in trouble with the law.

Late Wednesday afternoon, social media exploded after photos went viral of yet another African-American male being involved in a situation with law enforcement.

According to multiple news reports, University of Virginia student Martese Johnson, a Chicago native, was seen in a video being detained by Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control officers. The video also shows blood streaming down Johnson’s face as they held him on the ground and handcuffed him outside a Charlottesville bar.


Johnson, an honor student who graduated from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy, was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice.

According to the UVA student newspaper,Cavalier Daily, Johnson was apporached by ABC officers after he was denied entry into to a bar because the doorguy believed the ID was a fake.

UVA’s student newspaper went on to say that Johnson,20, is a member of the school’s honor committee along with being a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated (Full disclosure: I am also a member of said fraternity).

As someone who once was a bouncer/doorguy full time, along with being an alumni of another Virginia school, Hampton University, I may be able to shed some light on things.

Here’s a list of things I jotted down this morning:

1. I went to college in Virginia. Most people don’t realize there’s a huge difference between a commonwealth state(VA) and a regular one (IL). The laws are more strict in a commonwealth. Ask me about how I ended up with 50 hours of community service and a probation officer for having a beer in front a classmate’s apartment building? I still remember the officer who stopped me telling the judge “He goes to Hampton. He can afford it.” Sidenote: I did work study. It took a minute to get out from under this.

2. As a bouncer, when we discover a fake ID, one of two things can happen. We either refuse entry or take the ID. Every bar in America is supposed to have a booklet showing what to look for in a ID from each state.

3. In my 10 years of being a bouncer, when telling someone their ID is fake and they won’t be let in, of course a heated discussion happens. It might even get physical.

4. Tread lightly when discussing this for the simple fact that you might not know what happened.

5. It’s the norm to demonize these kids and their families. Before you roll your eyes about this kid being an honor student, that’s true. So don’t surprised if someone lays into you for your misguided character assessment.

6. Based on my experience of dealing with the courts in VA, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Ask me about how I was pulled over twice within a span of 15 minutes? I was given two speeding tickets while on my way to contest a previous ticket!! This led to my license being suspended.

7. Remember something before you push a narrative about someone you’ve never met. That boy is someone’s son, cousin, classmate, frat brother, friend, etc.

8. This should be a lesson to college bound students and their parents. When looking into a school, also look at the laws in the town and state the school is in.

Just giving you something to think about.

Enjoy your day!


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