Last Updated on February 17, 2022
A Black Lives Matter activist is facing felony extortion charges after police say he threatened business owners into giving him and his friends free products.
Devonere Johnson, 28, allegedly threatened two businesses in Madison, Wisconsin, during the massive protests that often led to rioting following the dead of George Floyd in police custody, on June 22.
Johnson and two friends, Gregg James Jr., 23, and William Shanley, 25, allegedly demanded free food and services from a tavern, according to Law Enforcement Today.
“I am [expletive] disturbing the [expletive] out of this restaurant and I got a [expletive] bat,” Johnson allegedly said to patrons at Cooper’s Tavern while brandishing a bullhorn and baseball bat.
“You don’t want 600 people to come here and destroy your business and burn it down. The cops are on our side,” Johnson allegedly threatened the bar owner. “You notice that when you call them, nothing happens to us.”
Madison police quickly arrived in a squad car to apprehend the unruly customers only for Johnson to escape and be tackled to the ground shortly after by officers.
The two businesses owners lodging the official complaint against Johnson and his associates chose to remain anonymous.
Another business owner complained that Johnson had entered the premises blasting a boombox and demanding money.
NBC15 reported that Johnson instructed “Give me money or we’ll break windows” before adding “Venmo me money.”
The owner told Johnson that he was a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and that he had already given money to the movement. Johnson told those in the establishment “You are all KKK,” as a second person said that they would be receiving a call from somebody with a Chicago area code.
Around 300 people marched toward the Dane County jail, tearing down two statues, fires lit, and the senator was punched in the face, following Johnson’s arrest.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported, “This is not a peaceful protest, so if you came out here for a peaceful protest, you missed it,” one organizer said. “We’re done being peaceful. Now we demanding justice.”
Johnson’s rap sheet includes: a felony theft from 2016, misdemeanor charges for theft and being a passenger in a stolen vehicle in 2015, and operating without a valid license in 2018.
If convicted, Johnson could face up to 40 years behind bars, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
His associates face lesser charges: James Jr. was tentatively charged with threats to injure, while Shanley was tentatively charged with party to a crime of threats to injure.