Gov McAuliffe speaks with community on ABC arrest of UVA student

Gov McAuliffe speaks with community on ABC arrest of UVA student (Image 1)
Gov McAuliffe speaks with community on ABC arrest of UVA student (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

CHARLOTTESVILLE (WVIR) - Governor Terry McAuliffe met with Charlottesville community leaders at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church Wednesday morning to talk about the bloody arrest of UVA student Martese Johnson.

The hour-long meeting, held behind closed doors, was to talk about how to move forward and strengthen community relations in light of Johnson's arrest two weeks ago. Pictures and video captured from the scene of the bloody arrest by ABC agents outside a corner bar sparked protests and calls for change.

McAuliffe acknowledged problems with the ABC and said he wants to make sure they're addressed. The governor met with community leaders, University of Virginia students and Dr. Alvin Edwards, the pastor at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church.

All of the groups have been concerned since the arrest of Martese Johnson. Many of them want to explore stripping the ABC of its law enforcement power and find ways to address any excessive use of force by police in the commonwealth.

"Some of them still talk about their concern, their fear of police, they talk about how unfair they felt like it was," stated Dr. Edwards.

Investigations led by Virginia State Police are looking into how agents handled the arrest. Gov. McAuliffe has already signed an executive order for more training and accountability for ABC agents. "The system as it exists today is not working. I don't want any of my agencies to be creating chaos, to be creating issues," said Governor McAuliffe.

Community leaders said they felt the message from the governor - in coming to Charlottesville and listening to the community - is that he cares and is taking the issue seriously.

"The meeting went very well, we had great ideas and we look forward to when the report comes out to making a difference in our community...making it better, making it one," said Dr. Edwards.

Following the meeting there was agreement from the governor, the pastor and others in the closed session that we should wait to pass judgment until the facts come out. The governor also vowed to work with the General Assembly on reform.