Man who triggered protest charged

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Friday charged a Black man whose arrest triggered a violent protest in Wisconsin’s capital city with extorting local businesses.

Police arrested 28-year-old Devonere Johnson in Madison on Tuesday after he walked into Cooper’s Tavern near the state Capitol building with a megaphone and a bat. The arrest sparked a protest later that night that saw demonstrators tear down two statues outside the Capitol building and assault state Sen. Tim Carpenter on the Capitol lawn.

Johnson faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted on two counts of extortion. Online court records did not list the case or an attorney for Johnson as of late Friday afternoon. U.S. Attorney Scott Blader said in a statement that Johnson’s initial appearance hasn’t been set.

According to court documents, Johnson and an unnamed man had been trying to extort business owners around the Capitol for beer, food and money for two days before Johnson was arrested.

FBI Agent Beth Boxwell wrote in an affidavit that the owner of Cooper’s Tavern came up from the bar’s basement on Monday afternoon to find Johnson and another man unidentified in the affidavit sitting at a table and playing music from a portable stereo.

The owner told him that he supports the Black Lives Matter movement to which Johnson replied, according to court documents, “What have you done locally?” He said he’d start breaking windows if he didn’t get money.


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