Madison’s Days of Rage

Arrest of black activist who allegedly accosted a Rosary-praying mother of four and restaurant patrons sparks riots, firebomb, and criminal damage to statues in the downtown of Wisconsin’s capital.

Left: Video shows a man police identified as Devonere Armani Johnson escaping from a squad car after being detained for harassing patrons at a restaurant on Madison’s Capitol Square. (Still from Madison Police Department video); right: Dane County released this photo of a man with an incendiary device at the City County Building in Downtown Madison. The firebomb was thrown into the building. Fire was extinguished by Dane County deputies.

MADISON, Wisconsin — A night of rioting by Black Lives Matter supporters upset over the arrest of one of the group’s activists started just hours after the bat-wielding man allegedly accosted a 40-year-old woman praying the Rosary with her four small children, then went into a downtown restaurant and raged at patrons over a bullhorn about Jesus Christ not being white.

Rioters pulled down two Capitol Square statues — one of them that honors an abolitionist and Civil War hero. While 28-year-old Devonere Armani Johnson sat in the Dane County jail Tuesday night for his alleged harassment on the Square, someone tossed a firebomb into a window of the adjacent City County Building. The incendiary landed near the Dane County 911 emergency-call center. Nearby, Democrat state senator Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee said he was beaten and kicked in the head by up to 10 protesters while trying to photograph the unrest. He was treated at a local hospital.

The wild two days in the heart of Madison saw a significant escalation in violence by anti-racism protesters. Police said a group of up to 300 agitators roamed through Downtown Tuesday night, blocking intersections and driveways, stealing a tow truck and toppling two century-old bronze statues that stood on opposite corners of the Capitol Square. The statues were “Forward,” a woman who depicts the spirit of Wisconsin progress, and Col. Hans Christian Heg, a militant abolitionist who helped slaves escape capture and fought against the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Republican state lawmakers were incensed at the violence. They demanded that Gov. Tony Evers call up the National Guard to protect the State Capitol, which Evers did before the close of business on Wednesday. Wisconsin Guard members will support local, county and Capitol police in protecting public and private property should rioters return for another round in the streets near the Wisconsin seat of government power.

The whole mess started when Johnson, a felon on probation, allegedly accosted a suburban Dane County Catholic mother of four as she prayed the Rosary with her children on the western corner of the Capitol Square. “He had the bat over his shoulder and then it slung down. I just knew he was going to get us,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified by name for fear of reprisal. “He was yelling that he knew I was rich because I was a … b*tch. It had nothing to do with skin. He didn’t yell anything about skin (color). He yelled about praying, he yelled that I was fat, that I was rich. It was crazy.”

The woman said she quickly moved her children in the opposite direction, out of harm’s way. She said Johnson got within about 12 feet of the family. “I just moved as fast as I could. I got the kids all the way back to the car,” she said. “We were only to the third (Rosary) mystery, but I figured it was more important to get them safe. We jumped in the car and as we were leaving I noticed a lot of police. I just guessed that somebody saw his behavior toward us and called the police. It turns out he was also menacing other people.”

The woman said Johnson yelled something along the lines of “don’t think your God’s going to save you” and a few other things “that I could not hear completely because I was focused so much on getting the kids away.”

Police said Johnson then accosted patrons on the patio of The Cooper Tavern, 20 W. Mifflin St. Video released by the Madison Police Department shows a young black man with a bat and bullhorn follow a white man into the tavern, shouting that the white man was a racist. Inside the establishment, the man identified as Johnson shouted into the bullhorn about religion and how the Civil War was fought “to see who gonna control the ni**ers.”

We’re going to talk about this Jesus guy,” the man yelled while looking directly at someone filming the incident. “Jesus was not a white man with blond hair, blue eyes and pink lips.” That was an apparent reference to prominent Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King, who said earlier this week that artistic depictions of Christ as a white man should be torn down.

Video shows Johnson leaving the restaurant and returning to shout at patrons on the patio. Police started arriving shortly after, prompting Johnson to walk north on the sidewalk. He tried to get around one police woman before a group of other officers converged on him to take away the bat. Johnson wrestled with police over the next several minutes. They carried him to a squad car, but he broke free from their hold and bolted across Mifflin Street. He was tackled, restrained and placed under arrest. By this time, at least six squad cars littered the intersection. Some bystanders shouted at police; one woman with a dog appeared to attempt to get by police to get access to Johnson.

Johnson was jailed on tentative charges of disorderly conduct, resisting or obstructing police, escape from a criminal arrest, and a probation violation. According to Wisconsin court records, Johnson was convicted in 2017 of being party to the crime of theft of moveable property, a Class G felony. He was placed on five years probation and ordered not to possess any weapons.

By Tuesday night, his arrest caused 200-300 protesters to gather outside the nearby Dane County Public Safety Building. About 1 a.m. Wednesday June 24, a man tossed a firebomb into the City County Building, 211 S. Carroll St., which houses the 911 call center, the Madison Police Department and other city and county offices. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the firebomber. Anyone with information should call Madison Area Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014 or online at

“We are looking to the public to help us identify this individual,” said Jon Ortiz, assistant special agent in charge of the ATF St. Paul Field Division. “This is a serious crime that put a number of lives at risk. Acts like this will not be tolerated. If you know who threw this device, ATF is offering up to $5,000 for information.”

Police said protesters tried to gain access to the Capitol building, but were repelled by security using pepper spray. Windows were smashed in other downtown government buildings. A man reported that he was beaten and robbed when his car inadvertently crossed the path of a group of protesters. He told police a protester threw a bicycle at his car. When he got out to investigate, Madison Police said, he was surrounded by up to 50 people, punched, knocked to the ground and kicked repeatedly. He was being treated at a Madison hospital.

Police recovered the two downed statues. Forward, a bronze statue created by artist Jean Miner, was toppled and left in the middle of the street. It was originally exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. “Forward” was installed at the Wisconsin Capitol to great fanfare in October 1895. Just two weeks ago, a special Eucharistic Procession in Downtown Madison stopped at the site of the statue for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg was decapitated by rioters, who pulled it from its base and tossed it into a nearby lake. It was later recovered. More than 2,000 people attended the dedication of the Heg statue on October 17, 1926. Heg was honored as the “most distinguished solder of Norwegian birth in the Civil War.” He fought in a number of famous battles and was killed at Chickamauga in September 1863.

This week’s violence was just the latest sad chapter for the City of Madison. On several occasions, peaceful Madison protests brought on by the death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis at the hands of police turned into riots and looting. Dozens of stores along Madison’s famous State Street are now boarded up, covered in graffiti and elaborate street art.

“The city of Madison is in dire crisis right now, and there is a lack of leadership at the top,” said Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke of Kaukauna, the majority leader in the State Assembly. “Action needs to be taken.”

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi condemned the violence. “What happened overnight in the heart of the city I’ve grown up and spent my entire life in is absolutely heartbreaking,” Parisi said. “The misguided actions of a few jeopardized people’s safety and well-being. Things have gone too far.”

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Rep. Robin Vos decried the lack of arrests and prosecution of those who looted and destroyed stores along State Street in early June. “People have not been held accountable. That has to change,” Vos said. “It should not be partisan. It should be something that we can hopefully get bipartisan consensus on, that crime is wrong, and that people who commit it should be prosecuted.”

Before Tuesday’s outbreak of violence, Bishop Donald J. Hying of the Catholic Diocese of Madison condemned the calls from activists to destroy or tear down artistic depictions of Jesus Christ because they are viewed as white or European. “I need to denounce such a call to violence and destruction,” Hying said in a letter dated June 23rd. “Our statues, pictures, stained-glass windows, churches, icons and devotions are holy to us. They are sacramentals, blessed and sacred, visible expressions of the love of God poured out in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and made manifest in the Saints.”

Hying said the “secular iconoclasm” sweeping across America will not bring healing. “Such violence will only perpetuate the prejudice and hatred it ostensibly seeks to end,” Bishop Hying said. Only the love of Christ “can heal a wounded heart, not a vandalized piece of metal.”

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About Joseph M. Hanneman 30 Articles
Joseph M. Hanneman writes from Madison, Wisconsin.


  1. The current violence was entirely predictable, from the onset, right after the first round of “peaceful protests” and demonstrations. They were clearly illegal; no one can simply take over public streets at will, yet these “demonstrations” were widely encouraged. Anyone who has paid attention over the past many years, must have known that violence would soon become more and more pronounced and more bold with time.

    This should be a lesson to all, in particularly so-called “social justice” warriors in and outside the Church, who are so often inclined to jump on the bandwagon when prompted to do so by rampant misleading and wholly one-sided media coverage driven by half-truths if not outright lies. It takes time and reflection for the truth to be known and for a proper response to become evident.

    Hopefully this hard lesson will not need to be repeated in the future, though I have my doubts.

  2. This has got to stop! The Governor needs to man up and keep National Guard presence in Madison until this unrest quells. Furthermore, Johnson and anyone else harassing and targeting people due to be white need to be charged with hate crimes! If the situation were in reverse, whites would be charged. It is time for equal treatment across the board

  3. Liberals have sown the wind by not stopping violent protests before now, yet it mystifies me that polls show voters, including in Wisconsin, tending in an even more liberal direction. Maybe more spinelessness and excuse making at the top will bring about good “change”? Seriously, it is not only a few in the streets who have a tenuous grip on reality, it is wide sections of the American people, and that is far scarier. And sad. May God have mercy on us all.

  4. It has been said many times that “actions speak louder than words.”

    Need more be said – CAN more be said about BLM than these actions?

  5. I am pretty sure lots of these rioters are actually crazy, have mental illness of some sort. They may be able to walk around and function, but they are bat stuff crazy, most of them.

  6. Civilization is an voluntary artifice not a given, brutishness is man’s true nature. You want to see what happens when Christianity is extinguished in this country? You’re getting a good preview.

  7. Let me get this straight.

    The protesters toppled a statue of an abolitionist and Civil War hero. In American parlance, “abolition” refers to ending slavery. This means that the protesters are against the idea of freeing the black slaves. But the article refers to the protesters as “anti-racism.”

    The article has misnamed the protesters. It would be more appropriate to refer to the protesters as either “racists” or as “anarchists.” The term “anti-racism” is inaccurate.

    • Perhaps because they know they are still enslaved to their hatred. Only God can free them from that. If they so desire.

    • It was the democrat party that was historically (and likely still secretly is) the party of slavery, so it is no surprise they would support groups bent on destroying monuments dedicated to emancipation…or integration (which is why they revere Margaret Sanger, for example).

      • The Democratic Party is the party today of socialism, which is merely the latest form of slavery updated for the industrial age. Socialism is Ivy League slavery, run by the Best and the Brightest dressed in Brooks Brothers suits.

    • Steve – A distinction must be made here – they never said they were smart, they only said they were angry.

  8. However much defenders of Vatican II like to insult critics of Vatican II, the indisputable fact is that the post Vatican II ecclesial culture has been not only marked by tendencies to preach universal salvation but also by a downplaying of personal sin, especially the sin of pride, a sin that is obviously necessary to preach a downplaying of personal sin in the first place. In the last approximately five thousand homilies I’ve endured, I haven’t heard the word sin mentioned once, not even on Good Friday.
    What I’ve also heard a lot lately is many voices of ordained men condemning other ordained men for noting that those who screech anti-Catholic bigotry in this current crisis are not necessarily virtuous. Bigotry seems to be permissible for some when they belong to a designated victim group.
    The adage that there is no stupidity that a prideful mind will not embrace trying to prove superior intelligence or cruelty a prideful heart will not perform trying to prove superior benevolence is being proved every day in Our Lord’s broken Church.

    • Some good points. Will add that right now I am coming to the conclusion that Vatican II and its implementation was highjacked by elite theologists, who thought they new more than God. I mean who needs the Holy Spirit when they think they know so much. The result was a destruction of the Catholic Culture. While the elite Vatican Twoist thought they had an answer for the Post Modern world they simply stumbled about praising how much smarter they are than those who go to mass, pray the rosary and try to live a faithful Catholic life. So the Elite Vatican Twoist are now mostly silent on abortion, praying the rosary, Eucharistic Devotion etc, to avoid offending their other elite comrades. So this is where we end up.

      • Many have blamed Vatican 2 — but this time in our world is much more Complex — Pope paul VI told us that the Smoke of Satan had entered the Sanctuary of the Church. I just read the Commencement talk upreme Justice gave to college student.Clarence Thomas and Justice Scalia were very much in accord with their sound legislation. They came from opposite educational backgrounds. Clarence Thomas mentioned that His Grandfather only had 9 months of education where Scalia came from a renowned educational family — and yet, they spent years together on the Supreme court together –Clarence Thomas mentioned that He had the opportunity to be educated by Nuns who gave them a Higher Purpose — He mentioned that he too left the church for several years, but returned when He realized that the Simple early formation he received was most important . He quoted that when he was 7 years old — in class they had the BALTIMORE CATECHISM — and today as he reaches the age of 70, that This Sister who was dedicated to a Higher Purpose taught them that GOD MADE THEM TO KNOW HIM, TO LOVE HIM , TO SERVE HIM IN THIS WORLD, AND TO BE HAPPY WITH HIM FOREVER IN THE NEXT WORLD. Reading his commencement talk, I realized that those of us who are reaching our TWILIGHT YEARS did not pass on these ABSOLUTES to our Children. America has had the luxury passed on to us, and w forgot our PURPOSE, and our Children have been raised by the Culture of their Peers, and broken homes. Back in the 1950’s the School Sisters of St Francis warned us that Communism would try to take over the PRESS — We need to take immediate action, as we are the CHURCH — gone astray. WE need the Wisdom of our Grandparents. Supreme Justice Thomas mentioned that He wished he had spent more time with his grandfather.!1

        • Paul VI did indeed accurately lament that the “smoke of Satan” had entered the Church. But it was he, in fact, who had opened the windows.

    • So you want to do this now?

      Vatican 2 is at fault? Freakin seriously? I notice from reading Church Militant’s expose of the SSPX that rejection of Vatican 2 didn’t save them from being infiltrated by Pedophiles and quasi-Nazi types. Also I note Communist & totalitarian revolutions have happened in countries way before Vatican 2. The world is on fire and while weak Bishops are cowering before the mob you like Antifa and the Democrats are using the crisis to promote yer own goofy agenda.

      Spare me buddy!

      Here are the facts if no Vatican 2 happened we would be in the same place. Vacillating and weak clergy coupled with an indifferent and ignorant laity have always existed. They always will exist and that will be true regardless if we take communion in the hand or not. It is called original sin look it up.

      We have to fight this nonsense! Yer foolish opinions on Vatican 2 vs my correct views are irrelevant to a mob of Communists who will linch us both as we argue over the propriety of changing the liturgy! We will both hang next to the Eastern Orthodox who has no Vatican I or 2. We will also hang next to the Orthodox Jew would really doesn’t care how we eat Communion bread.

      So enough of yer Cato the Elder impression already. Get off yer butt and speak out against the violence!

      Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem(or in yer case Vatican2) esse delendam! Means very little when the plebs are burning down the forum.

  9. This Johnson fellow seems to be mentally disturbed.
    Surely the criminally insane should not be left to walk the streets. Sedate him for his own protection & confine him in an institution to protect the public at large.
    The poor man – such a shame to see one so young so disturbed.
    He needs help.

  10. What your seeing is what Barack Obama called his “civilian army more numerous than the police and military”does anyone remember when he boasted of that as he was taking office?He sits a mile away from the WH and continues to coordinate trouble in the streets..he was a street organizer before he was a senator.BLM and most if not all radicle groups are all tied together and funded by Soros and other billionaires seeking a one world govt.Our nation is currently being taken away from us before our eyes without a shot fired.Name calling and being labled a bigot,racist,etc with the threat of losing your job has silenced and submitted the majority.The answere?PRAY PRAY PRAY..God said..if My people pray I will heal their man can fix the mess we are in now..only God..ONLY GOD MATTERS

    icon of God The Father , an image that could sort of help to cut across the perceived divides to an extent .
    ‘ If you have seen Me , you have seen The Father ‘ – as much as the evil and violence is instigated by the enemy , God allowing same to bring out good , including more holiness in lives ..
    The Father , honoring the desire in hearts , to see the Father , to help dispel fears and misrepresentations , a sort of surprise too , depicted in His own words to Sr.Eugenia – as ‘ not older or younger than My Son and My Spirit ‘.

    Unsure if churches too would be allowed to have them , as reparation for older versions – of ‘ as an angry old Man ‘ .
    Our beloved Father too desires a truer image of Him , in His Oneness with The Son in the timelessness of eternity , in our hearts , to help us to trust Him more . 🙂

  12. The Blessed Mother at Fatima warned us, way back in 1917, that Russia would spread her errors throughout the world. We have been witnessing the fulfillment of Her warning for the past 100 years. How many nations have fallen to Communism? Out own great nation is no exception as these leftists/anarchists are trying to rewrite history, destroying secular and sacred art, fomenting racial division. Couple recent events with our legalized abortion,same sex marriage,legalized pornography, legal and illegal drug use, incredible taxes and the so called Feminism, what do you have ? All of the weapons Communism calls for to defeat Christian society. If we hope to have a peace filled future we MUST pray the Rosary! The Holy Father in union with the bishops of the world MUST consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Then and only then will there be peace.

  13. All this violence and hatred from BLM is no surprise and only shows exactly what these people are. At heart they are consumed by hate. Hate extinguishes reason. Reason extinguished leads to more hate and ugliness.

    So we see BLM in its full display of its hateful,ugly self.

    At least now there can be no more pretense about their cause being anti-racism. They don’t have a cause. It’s simply hate being given its full expression.

  14. BLM wants to form a political party, but with 15% of the population they will need the support of the ‘sorry I am not black’ intellectually handicapped college grads to win elections. The question is whether they will first implode when the other progressive groups want their share of the power and attention. In the meantime, conservatives must be ready to pick-up the pieces and re-institute our GOD given values back into society. A good start would be to stop voting for the lesser evil politicians and then sanitize our education system to put historical facts back into the curriculum.

  15. The world WAS consecrated to the IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY on March 25,1984.
    Sister Lucia of Fatima said it was accepted by God, Then in Denver, Our LADY
    DICTATED the consecration for the Preparation of the Triumph of Our lady.
    and celebrated March 25, 1994 as the 10th anniversary of the World
    Consecration. As she says….”IN THE END MY IMMACULATE HEART WILL TRIUMPH.”

    • Alice, there is still controversy remaining as to whether or not the consecration to Russia was done. Fr. Gabriel Amorth has stated that he was within touching distance of Pope JPII when that consecration was performed, and that JPII did not specifically state “Russia” but the “World.” If the consecration had been completed, we would not be seeing these episodes of street violence from terrorists and anarchists now. Russia is still a communist nation, whatever face they choose to present. These is much available evidence to support this, in the public sphere. They have merely gone underground, so to speak, to fool the West into believing they no longer desire to dominate the world.

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