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Woman harassed by BLM activist in Madison returns to pray the Rosary

On June 23, the woman and her four children, were walking up State Street to the Capitol Square in Downtown Madison when they were harassed by a man with a bullhorn who was carrying an aluminum baseball bat.

Rev. Andrew Kurz lifts the monstrance during a Eucharistic Procession at the Wisconsin State Capitol on June 14. At the left is the historic statue “Forward,” which was torn down by rioters earlier this week. (Photo: Joseph M. Hanneman)

MADISON, Wisconsin — A woman accosted by a male Black Lives Matter activist while she prayed the Rosary with her young children on the Capitol Square earlier this week returned to the scene to pray again Wednesday and Thursday, saying she would not be bullied into silence.

“We went out again and prayed today. The way I see it is if we are bullied out of the public square because of a crazy, then none of us can pray,” said the woman, 40, a parishioner at a suburban Dane County Catholic Church. She asked not to be identified in order to protect her family. “We’re never going to be able to go out and pray freely.”

On June 23, the woman and her four children, all under the age of ten, were walking up State Street to the Capitol Square in Downtown Madison when they were harassed by a man with a bullhorn who was carrying an aluminum baseball bat. She said the man made threatening gestures with the bat, belittled her faith and said she was “rich” and a “fat b*tch.” Fearing for her safety, the woman took the children and retreated to the family vehicle.

A short time later, the man went into the nearby Cooper’s Tavern and caused a disturbance with his bullhorn, shouting about slavery, civil war and how Jesus Christ “was not a white man with blond hair, blue eyes and pink lips.” When police arrived and moved to disarm the man, he fought with officers and ran from the scene before being detained and arrested. His arrest sparked protests and riots that night, including the destruction of two historic statues on Capitol property, the firebombing of the City County Building, widespread vandalism and the beating of a state senator who was photographing the unrest.

Devonere Armani Johnson, 28, a well-known black activist from Madison who calls himself “Yeshua Musa,” was jailed on tentative charges of disorderly conduct, resisting/obstructing police, escape from a criminal arrest and a probation violation. The violence following his arrest prompted Gov. Tony Evers to activate the Wisconsin National Guard’s Quick Reaction Force to support local police in protecting the Capitol and quelling any further rioting. Protests in Downtown Madison have since been peaceful.

“All I can do is go out and pray quietly and peacefully with my kids,” the woman said. “I feel we are called to do that, and if that is being rebellious or dangerous or evil, then we are in serious trouble. Our world has reached a point I don’t want to think about.”

The woman said her children were traumatized by the experience. She framed her explanation to them in a charitable light. “I just told them there are people in the world who are very hurt and confused right now, and they think they are helping but they are making things worse.”

A group of local Catholics has made regular “Rosary walks” around the Capitol Square over the past month, a practice started by Madison-area priest, Fr. Richard Heilman. Part of the idea is to be a visible sign of the Catholic faith in the public square.

At noon Thursday, Fr. Heilman sat at the base of one of the destroyed statues near the Capitol and posed for a photo with some of the Rosary walkers. He said recent events in Madison and across the United States show that the real fight is between satan and God. For Catholics, the answer is more prayer, especially the Rosary. “Absolutely,” Fr. Heilman told CWR. “We’re weak, and Satan believes this is his time to deal the last blow.”

Developments surrounding the Downtown violence piled up quickly on Thursday. Business owners told local CBS television affiliate News 3 that Johnson had been harassing restaurant patrons and owners for several days prior to his arrest. “Several businesses, which did not want to be identified due to fear of retaliation, said Devonere Johnson came into their restaurants with a bat and a megaphone demanding free food and drinks and threatened those who wouldn’t give it to him, allegedly saying he would burn down their buildings or beat them up,” the news station reported.

The conservative web site Empower Wisconsin said Madison police sources told them that during the rioting, officers were instructed by commanders to stand down, even after police were warned the City County Building could be target of a firebomb. “What I know, talking to my peers, they were told to stand down so command post could make decisions and choices,” one police source told Empower Wisconsin. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) put up a $5,000 reward for information leading the capture of the man who firebombed the building that houses the Madison Police Department.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway issued a statement Thursday indicating she wants to see Johnson released on bail. “I recognize that we need better options to deescalate situations and offer restorative justice in our community,” the mayor said.

In 2017, Johnson was convicted in Wisconsin of felony theft of moveable property and given five years of probation. One of the stipulations was he could not possess any weapons. In 2015, he was acquitted of shooting and paralyzing a man during a fight on a Minneapolis bus. He was tried in Hennepin County District Court for felony assault. One witness told police that during the fight, Johnson told the other man, “I’m gonna pop you.”

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About Joseph M. Hanneman 101 Articles
Joseph M. Hanneman writes from Madison, Wisconsin.


  1. “Woe to them that call evil good and good evil” A pious mother and her children praying the Rosary is evil, while a thug threatening violence is good? This society has been turned around backwards.

  2. Why is this violence and evil tolerated? “People” like this need to be made to pay for the damages they have done; not just locked up. They need to repair and pay for this damage. This is ridiculous. This Mayor is an idiot.

  3. I have so much respect for those who continue to pray and witness in public for the Lord . I pray and ask for your protection and I am with you. I have lost respect for those who support this rampant stupidity including officials. I am wondering where is the witness of the black community in public of the effectiveness and truth of right living which is available to all in this country? I have seen and been a part of the advancement since the 60’s. But of course one has to be able to read and see and care about truth. To these OBLM (only black lives matter) people, they need help. One thing I have noticed for a long time is the lack of gratitude in the African American community for being born where at least one has the chance to seek and find TRUTH. They are afraid too of the irrationality.!! It is not in power, wealth, even respect, those come when you are looking for TRUTH. They say wake up, I say WAKE UP you have made your work so much harder for yourself. Why have all other ethnic groups melted in and become a grateful part of America while keeping their own cultures and languages etc ?? why is that?? They don’t go out and tear down their cities. Ask yourselves.

  4. Let me be sure I understand – This ‘activist’ has a past including felony theft and assault with a deadly weapon and he is presently in jail for threatening a woman and her 4 children – with a baseball bat – who were praying the Rosary.

    The response of the mayor – she wants to see him released on bail. Why does this not surprise me?

    When the riots started about 3 weeks ago most people said that there might be some reason – as in justification – for them, but they just kept on going, and now comes the latest.

    Anyone kept up on Seattle lately?

    African-Americans comprise approximately 13% of the population and they are responsible for 36% of abortions – don’t THOSE black lives matter? Apparently not. Black Lives Matter is not a movement, no matter what the spokesman and the t-shirts say – it is a secular cult presently comprised of terrorists, anarchists, and most importantly – useful idiots – lots of them.

    But many of the useful idiots eventually come to their senses, and this usually happens when their ‘leaders’ go one step too far, and one by one the idiots come to realize what most of us already know – enough is enough.

    • Yeah, Madison isn’t exactly the bastion of sanity. Like most of the larger, or even nid-size cities in the US, it is run by Alinskyites, whose book that inspires them was dedicated to a certain “former archangel” commonly referred to as the lightbearer, so, small wonder they would release Bar-Abbas and crucify Jesus…

  5. ‘ I want an attachment to life ‘ and the message , on the loss of the aura of sacredness in lives – worthy words of The Mother ,heard from Argentina , through an older woman of only a few years of education .—and-its-a-big-deal-31979

    Are there deeper lessons , in the above incidents , that heaven desires for us to discern , that the Pres. too would want to seek out as to where his deeper loyalty too need to be , such as for example , to be prevented from the occasion similar to the plague ( of violence ) related to the census and King David .

    Argentina and the Holy Father ..

    Madison – ? a place of spiritual soul ties with those who hold a ? subtle spirit of pride and contempt , about the the Holy Father being not holy enough ..
    and the city , also headed by secular figures , flaunting unholy soul ties as ‘sacred’
    ? a set up for turmoil , esp. in these times , many burning in the rage and guilt and hatreds from the inner fires of lust , needing the gentle dousing , in tender words of hope and respect , heeding to the healing words , trust in the leading and blessings through The Father figure ..
    ? The lesson for the President – to be on the side of the gentleness , like that of St.Francis , who dealt with the wolf ..

    Mother of Mercy , pray for us all .

  6. This is very simply good versus evil. There is plenty of both in every race, but I am apalled that so many of our political leaders have chosen evil over good. It is a terrible thing to see our country being overrun by Satan, but too many have turned their back on God.

  7. It is a hate crime to belittle our Catholic Faith and should be treated as such , instead the political climate is to pander to these criminal activists .
    The Catholic Church needs to take a stand against this evil.

    • Duh, all crimes are “hate” crimes. Don’t give in by using their terminology. Just call it a crime and/or a sin because it is both.

  8. God bless her.
    I saw that Popular Mechanics now has helpful hints on the best ways to take down pesky statues.
    Domestic terrorism has gone mainstream it seems.
    Vandalism and anarchy are equal opportunity employers though and pretty soon you end up with everyone participating and nothing left to salvage.

  9. This is disturbing that they allowed this man out of jail to begin with. Even after threatening people including a women with children the mayor wants to let him out of jail. This is by design, open boarders/Socialists communist play book. Now there is a roll back from reopening in certain states, we are heading for a Depression if we don’t take back this country from the left. Go to BLM site, its about abortion etc… nothing about Black lives but about it being communists etc.. They are nothing but a Trojan horse and have the perfect shield

  10. Mr. Johnson obviously has a significant violent criminal history but it appears to me that he also likely suffers from some type of mental illness. Instead of focusing on letting him out on bail maybe the Mayor should look into getting him some psychological help. I believe this would go a long way to helping him and to protecting the citizens of Madison.

    • Or…maybe, instead of electing mentally disturbed people who think it’s a good idea to let violent offenders roam the street, we should check the leaders of those mostly democrat run cities for signs of mental illness, preferrably using the old DSM that is still science based and not “feelings” based.

  11. What’s going to happen to the person arrested. What he did was terrorism plain and simple. I bet he walks because the law is terrified of BLM. Look what happened because the police were doing their job. That night riots started because of the terrorists arrests. What should have happened that night were the police to arrest more terrorists. Keep on arresting them and get them off the streets. Give them 5 year sentences without parole and this will stop soon.

    A word to that woman that was praying the Rosary. I applaud you for that but next time leave your children home. You said they were traumatized. They don’t need to be exposed to this. It’s no place for them to be.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Woman harassed by BLM activist in Madison returns to pray the Rosary | Catholic Canada
  2. SATVRDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit
  3. BLM activist faces federal extortion charges in Madison, WI – Catholic World Report | The Press

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