Madison WI – Pay up… or you’ll pay.
That was essentially the message to business owners from a Black Lives Matter activist, according to the FBI – who has now arrested him.
Devonere Johnson, a vocal protester for Black Lives Matter, was apparently staying in Wisconsin recently and taking part in the civil unrest.
If this was not enough, Johnson allegedly began demanding local businesses provide he and his friends free food and services.
In addition, he also demanded protection money to the owners, if they refused to pay them, he threatened to break windows and damage their business. The FBI was called into investigate and charged him on Friday for extorting businesses.
Some of Johnson’s charges are based on his actions in a local tavern in Wisconsin. Cooper’s Tavern, a local bar in the area, Johnson and an unknown man were found sitting at the tables playing a loud radio.
The owner spoke with him and informed Johnson that he supported the Black Lives Matter movement in the area.
Johnson replied, according to court documents from the FBI:
“What have you done here locally?”
Johnson then demanded protection money and likened the owner and his employees as members of the Ku Klux Klan if they did not pay.
The intimidation did not stop there as Johnson returned to the same venue twice this past Tuesday. While inside, on video, Johnson is seen yelling into a bull horn allegations that the bar and the staff were racist.
One of them men with Johnson is seen with a bat with the words “Black Lives Matter” inscribed.
According to court documents, Johnson said, “just give us some free food and beer and we can end this now. You don’t want 600 people to come here and destroy your business and burn it down. The cops are on our side. You notice that when you call them, nothing happens to us.”
Officers did respond to the area and placed Johnson under arrest for disorderly conduct while armed, resisting arrest and attempting to flee while on active probation.
Johnson physically resisted the officers lawful attempts at taking him into custody and had to be taken to the ground in order to place him in handcuffs.
Once he was in custody, Johnson began yelling that he could not breathe and continually asked why he was being arrested.
The federal charges against Johnson for extortion could carry a maximum sentence of forty years in prison.
In an interview with WMTV, the Department of Justice US Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin in the case, Scott Blader, alleges:
“The threats were made that suggested that if he [the business owner] did not donate money to a Venmo account, that, in fact, they would be back, that they would cause disturbances and that, in fact, their business would suffer because of that.”
Blader told NBC15:
“When people no longer feel like they have the option to freely do what they have to do and if they don’t do it, that they, in fact, will suffer adverse consequences, and therefore they feel they must– that’s extortion.”
“It’s certainly right and expected that people have the ability to express their voices, but that stops when you begin to commit a crime, when you start to put people in harm or you begin to threaten property,” Blader said. “When that occurs, that’s a crime, that’s where the Department of Justice steps in. That’s where we’ll enforce the law.”
Johnson has been arrested a few times in the past, namely for an incident over a cell phone purchase.
Johnson and three others met with two people from Chicago in order to buy two cell phones from them. The problem was, Johnson nor his friends had any intention of purchasing anything, but rather rob the phones from the victims.
Johnson and his three accomplices held the pair from Chicago at gun point and eventually shot at them as they fled. Instead of being convicted of armed robbery and attempted murder, the courts dropped it down to theft.
What will happen to Johnson when this case goes to trial is unknown, but what is known is that his arrest sparked more outrage in the area. People rushed to the streets demanding that Johnson be released from custody.
When he was not, they began tearing down statutes in the area and defacing property.
Instead of calling for calm in the Wisconsin area, Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes decided to blame republicans for the unrest.
Barnes said in a now deleted tweet:
“I stand by my objection to violence against innocent people in all forms. But what I’m not about to do is open this app and see the same far right provocateurs who have used every bit of bandwidth to broaden the chasm of race relations in this state chime in as if they haven’t pushed people to this moment.”
Perhaps, instead of blaming violence on a specific group of people, like some groups in our country are fighting, maybe it is time to deal with the situation.
Wondering why he thinks the law is on his side?
Perhaps we need to look no further than Seattle.
So much for those arrests that took place when police made sweeps through Seattle’s CHOP zone on July 1st. Reports indicate that some of those who were arrested in defiance of the orders to disperse were back on the streets shortly thereafter.
Now every protester arrested during the CHOP sweep, including those accused of assaulting officers or resisting arrest, has been released from jail. https://t.co/oIetjsmP5p
— KOMO News (@komonews) July 3, 2020
According to reports, there were 44 people arrested during the sweep that took place during the early morning hours of July 1st in the zone once known as CHOP in Seattle.
One of the people arrested, Rashyla Levitt, was said to have only been held for mere hours after her arrest during the sweep for charges of failure to disperse.
CHOP LEADERS ARRESTED: Rayshyla Levitt taken by police this morning. She led earlier marches from West Lake Park and was consistently at #CHOP. But this movement is decentralized for these moments. If a few leaders go down, others step up and continue. #Seattle #seattleprotest pic.twitter.com/0CerVKnuFc
— Jonathan Choe Journalist KOMO News (@choeshow) July 1, 2020
By July 2nd, Levitt was already taking to the streets once again to engage in protests, saying the following about her release:
“We are back with the fire and we are ready to go.”
Levitt continued, noting that whatever was ongoing in CHOP was some sort of “movement” for “the people”:
“This is the people’s movement and we are gonna keep being part of the people and pushing this movement forward.”
While the charge was only a misdemeanor, many are concerned within the area that Levitt’s release is going to be that of a trend for those taken into custody during the CHOP clearing operation.
Considering that those arrested on site during the sweep were among those refusing to leave (among other charges) – a expedient release could morph into an expedient reassembling of the miscreants.
WATCH: "We're back with a fire and we're ready to go." These 2 protesters were arrested by @SeattlePD early Wednesday morning at the East Precinct for violating the Mayor's dispersal order. By Wednesday night, they were released from jail and back protesting. #CHOP @komonews pic.twitter.com/I2gNITyXOW
— Patrick Quinn (@PatrickQuinnTV) July 2, 2020
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, while having been the one responsible for clearing out CHOP weeks after it had formed and went unchecked until murders occurred, still managed to sneak in some pandering toward the lawless group that inhabited the area when commenting on the Seattle Police’s arrests that occurred on July 1st:
“I fully support SPD’s operations this morning and the arrests and bookings were appropriate. But as we move forward in healing, alternatives to charging and criminal sanctions are also important.”
So even after weeks of assaults, vandalism, robberies, and murders – Seattle’s mayor is still looking to extend friendly consideration toward a group of people that seized several city blocks and terrorized residents in the area.
Two Murders and a summer of Love later…. pic.twitter.com/FFVapDzbHh
— Mich Dee (@MDee123456) July 1, 2020
City Attorney Pete Holmes said that of those who were arrested for misdemeanor crimes during the CHOP sweep, they’d be eligible to have their charges dropped if they participate in a “diversion program.”
To give context as to the type of people who will be having their criminal charges dropped, take a look at how these “protesters” decided to treat a female reported when CHAZ/CHOP was in full form.
Inhabitants and supporters of the CHAZ/CHOP area in Seattle constantly claim that they’re not rioters or engaged in violence, but time and again they manage to convey something completely different when on camera.
On June 8th, a Fox affiliate news crew based out of Seattle ventured to the once-dubbed “autonomous zone” to engage in reporting. Instead, the crew was met with harassment and assault from the inhabitants – which was all caught on camera.
Fox 13 reporter Brandi Kruse posted the unedited video to Facebook on June 17th, where cameras captured her in the mere attempt to report on the sectioned-off six block area of Seattle while being surrounded by a group of “peaceful” protesters.
Kruse captioned the video posted with the following:
“I hope you will watch every minute so you can feel the fear we felt. So you can hear my tears at the end. This video was taken Monday, June 8, the night Seattle left the East Police Precinct to protesters.”
Kruse’s caption continued on the video, capping it off with the following:
“Our crew was targeted, stalked, harassed, and assaulted. The level of vitriol from one member of the mob, who claimed she was a ‘social worker,’ was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
“When elected leaders lump this type of behavior into what they’re calling ‘peaceful,’ not only is it a lie, but it’s deeply offensive to those who have been subjected to it. I hope this video is spread widely. Seattle needs to do better.”
The display was nothing short of a complete picture of what the CHAZ/CHOP movement represents: bigotry. The crowd surrounded a woman simply trying to do her job, using a means of intimidation and instances where Kruse noted that she was being shoved.
Overall, despite whatever positive spin media is trying to afford the “autonomous zone,” it’s clearly not a positive place. It is evidently rife with mob rule, copious amounts of vandalism, and an obvious show of those deemed “unwanted” will be forcibly removed.
For a group complaining about the likes of police brutality, they’re hardly a box full of kittens themselves.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.
Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing! (See image below.) Thanks for being a part of the LET family!