More charges: Devonere Johnson faces federal extortion charge; 2 others charged locally in downtown Madison incidents, police say

James, Johnson, Shanley
James, Johnson, Shanley

MADISON, Wis. — The Black Madison activist who was arrested this week outside a downtown Madison restaurant is facing extortion-related charges related to similar incidents this week. Two other men were also tentatively charged locally, police said.

The Madison Police Department said Friday that 28-year-old Devonere A. Johnson and 23-year-old Gregg A. James Jr. are tentatively charged with threats to injure. William T. Shanley, 25, was tentatively charged with party to a crime of threats to injure.

According to the report, officers arrested the Johnson, James and Shanley on Friday “in connection with recent extortion crimes made against downtown business owners.”

Johnson facing federal charge

The United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin Scott C. Blader’s office also announced a new federal charge against Johnson on Friday.

The federal criminal complaint charges Johnson with attempting to obtain money and property by consent induced by the threatened use of force, violence and fear. The complaint alleges that on Monday, Johnson threatened that the windows of a business would be destroyed unless a person associated with the business made a payment to Johnson’s Venmo account. The second count of the complaint alleged that on the same day, Johnson threatened to shut down and destroy a second business.

New charges from Madison police

Madison police said Johnson, James and Shanley demanded free food and drinks in return for not having a business destroyed by protesters. According to the report, in one case, the demand for free items was also in exchange for not having an employee injured.

Victims told police that during the commission of the alleged crimes, one of the suspects was in possession of a baseball bat. A victim said loud music was also played from a portable speaker, further disrupting business.

Johnson, also known as Yeshua Musa, was arrested outside Cooper’s Tavern on the Capitol Square Tuesday afternoon. Police released video Tuesday showing Johnson talking through a bullhorn and carrying a bat that appears to say “Black lives” inside Cooper’s.

Police also released video showing the confrontation and struggle between officers and Johnson that showed him run from the police squad car and police regaining custody of him in the middle of West Mifflin Street.

The controversial arrest sparked anger and violent demonstrations in Madison that including several reports of injuries and two Capitol statues torn from their pedestals.

Several businesses, which did not want to be identified due to fear of retaliation, told News 3 Now on Wednesday that Johnson had come 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.

Johnson has been held in the Dane County Jail on suspicion of resisting police, disorderly conduct, escape and a probation violation related to the incident at Cooper’s.

A protest outside the jail Wednesday night calling for Johnson’s release was peaceful. An attendee to that protest had tried to force Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney to release Johnson by released Mahoney’s personal information on social media Wednesday night, including his address and information about his family members, and he was later arrested accused of making terrorist threats. That suspect, Jeremy J. Ryan, said on his Facebook page that his demand and actions were not related to the Black Lives Matter movement.