The Dispatch: More from CWR...

BLM activist faces federal extortion charges in Madison, WI

U.S. Attorney announces complaint against man who allegedly harassed Rosary-praying mother of four.

A man identified by police 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)
Devonere Armani Johnson, 28, who calls himself “Yeshua Musa,” will be charged in federal court with two counts of extortion for allegedly shaking down Madison businesses for cash, food and beverages. He was already in custody for a June 23 incident in which he allegedly berated tavern patrons with a bullhorn while armed with an aluminum bat.

MADISON, Wisconsin — A Black Lives Matter activist who allegedly harassed and threatened a mother of four praying the Rosary on the Capitol Square on June 23 has now been charged by the U.S. Attorney with two counts of extortion for allegedly using threatened “force, violence and fear” to seek cash, food and beverages from Downtown businesses.

Scott C. Blader, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, on June 26 announced a federal criminal complaint against Devonere Armani Johnson, 28, of Madison. Johnson will be arraigned on the extortion charges in U.S. District Court in the near future.

He was already in the Dane County Jail on Madison Police Department charges related to a disturbance at Coopers Tavern on the Capitol Square June 23.

According to the federal charges, on June 22 Johnson told a Downtown business owner that his establishment’s windows would be smashed if a payment wasn’t made to Johnson’s Venmo account. Venmo is a mobile online payment system. The same day, the complaint alleges, Johnson threatened to shut down and destroy another business if he and his associates were not given free food and beverages.

“Those who attempt to take advantage of recent events to extort local businesses under the guise of community activism will be vigorously prosecuted,” Blader said in a news release. “All citizens have a right to feel safe within their communities.  Extortion is not activism, it is a crime and it will not be tolerated.”

Johnson’s June 23 arrest by Madison police for allegedly taunting and harassing Coopers Tavern patrons sparked a night of rioting, the firebombing of the City County Building, destruction of two state Capitol statues, the beating of a state senator and widespread vandalism in Downtown Madison.

Earlier in June, protests over the death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of police in Minneapolis sparked rioting and looting in Madison’s State Street shopping district. This week’s violence prompted Gov. Tony Evers to activate the Wisconsin National Guard’s Quick Reaction Force to help protect the State Capitol and Downtown Madison.

Johnson was seen carrying a baseball bat and berating patrons at the tavern on West Mifflin Street. Video released by the Madison Police Department shows him fighting police officers who took the bat away, then bolting from their custody as they were putting him into a patrol car. For the June 23 incidents, Johnson was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting or obstructing police, escape from a criminal arrest, and a probation violation.

He is on probation for a 2017 Wisconsin felony theft conviction. In 2015 he was acquitted in a Minneapolis shooting that left another man paralyzed from the neck down.

Prior to the restaurant incident, Johnson allegedly harassed and threatened a 40-year-old Catholic mother of four who was walking and praying the Rosary at the corner of State Street and the Capitol Square. She told CWR the man she later identified as Johnson slung the bat around while dishing out insults and walking towards her family.

“I felt like his goal was to scare people, and he did a great job,” the woman said in an interview. “It was only after the fact when I watched the video that I realized that was his goal. When I was in the situation, I thought he was going to hurt us because of how threatening he was acting; that he was going to come get us.”

The woman did not report her interaction with Johnson to Madison police. She said she fears retribution against her family if she files a complaint. Told of the federal charges against Johnson, the woman told CWR: “That is such a relief. You have no idea.” Despite the harassment, the woman has gone back to the Capitol Square each of the past three days to pray the Rosary. She said she won’t allow the incident to deter her from praying with her children.

If convicted on the federal extortion charges, Johnson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each count.

The charges against Johnson are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Madison Police Department, Blader said. Johnson has not yet made a Dane County court appearance on the local charges.

On June 25, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said she hoped to see Johnson released on bail because “we need better options to deescalate situations and offer restorative justice in our community.”


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


About Joseph M. Hanneman 32 Articles
Joseph M. Hanneman writes from Madison, Wisconsin.

11 Comments

  1. What do you mean released on bail? Hears as option for you, charge him with extortion, threatening woman and children, threatening to do bodily harm with a weapon. Make him an example. He’s plenty old enough to know right from wrong. Mayor Satya Rhodes- Conway. You need your head examined!!!!!!!

  2. Sadly BLM & extortion seem synonymous,

    This movement aligns with bigotry, racism, hate and the religion of political correctness.

    All lives matter.

  3. I know my Mennonite friends would first forgive the offender and share the gospel with him and his family.
    Most of what’s going on recently seems a sort of extortion. Corporate leaders are donating money to extremist groups in a similar way that business owners paid off the Mafia.

  4. The mother of four praying the rosary and been harassed by BLM thug has my profound respect. Nick Sandmann a child, been harassed by professional activist, then his bishop, school and media is a hero. Jakub Baryła a Catholic 15 year old boy, blocks a LGBT march in Poland holding a crucifix and a rosary.

    Where are our Bishops? what a privileged life they lead , while our faith, is attacked, our churches and religious icons defaced or destroyed. Please show some form of leadership, we pray pray for you.

      • @Leslie.
        Just a short note to say thank you and you are welcomed. There are a few priest and lay people who do so much for the Church, here is a priest a good American, who has been ordained not more than a year, Fr. Stephen Schumacher: Stands Between Mob. These are the true Sheppards.

  5. The bishops are too busy preening for the social and political elites to take any stand. They don’t want to appear judgmental and not be accompanying along the BLM path of “reconciliation”.
    Dear bishop Cupich, when oh when are we ever going to get women priests?

  6. There has been some mention of extortion. To me the SJW virtue signaling groups appear to traffic in emotional blackmail and extortion. They take every area that they touch, hijack it and take it hostage. Their demands read like ransom notes. They only evaluate their positions by their intentions, not by the results of their actions. It is only by evaluating the results of their actions that you can establish accountability and responsibility. Accepting accountability and responsibility is the difference between being truly righteous and being self-righteous. Accountability and responsibility is what the rule of law is all about. The actions described in this article are the fruit of the SJW mindset.

  7. Our bishops live a very comfortable pampered life.
    The days are coming where they will have to make a choice between shepherding their flock or totally abandoning the Faith.

  8. I knew that blm would overplay their hand – it was just a matter of time. And then take a look at the situation in Seattle – has there been any msm coverage of that?

    The blm ‘movement’ is quickly being exposed as what it is – nothing more than a bunch of thugs, and if BLM is painted on the courts at NBA games – as has been (seriously) suggested – the consequences could be financially dire for the owners – and the players. And if the players all take a knee if and when the NFL opens there will be more consequences.

    The message is clear and getting clearer – enough is enough.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Bits & Bytes |

Leave a Reply to mrscracker Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.


*