In response to the arrest of a man who walked into a cafe holding a baseball bat and screaming through a megaphone, a riot broke out in Madison, Wisconsin, Tuesday night. The result was violence, including the brutal assault of a “gay progressive” Democratic politician, as well as property damage, including toppled monuments, among them a statue dedicated to an abolitionist.
On Wednesday, Madison’s Democratic mayor — who champions the idea of “reimagining public safety” — issued an incensed rebuke of the “protesters” who wreaked havoc in her city the night before, and called for a clear distinction to be made between those exercising their constitutional right to protest and those seizing on the opportunity to engage in “criminal conduct.”
“[W]hat happened last night in Madison was far from peaceful and exceeding dangerous,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in the statement posted Wednesday on her government website. “People attacked a State Senator who championed workers’ rights in 2011, tore down a statue of an abolitionist who died trying to end slavery during the Civil War, and attempted to set fire to a building with dozens of people inside.”
“We need to separate First Amendment protests from those engaged in criminal conduct,” the progressive mayor declared. “People engaged in violence and criminal conduct against people or property on the streets of Madison will be held accountable.”
“Over the past weeks, we have heard chants of ‘who keeps us safe? We keep us safe!’ It’s time for that ‘us’ and that ‘we’ to include everyone in Madison,” she said. “Because every single person who lives here deserves to be and feel safe in our City. And it is up to every single one of us to make that true. Everyone — police, protester, elected official, business owner, resident — everyone must find it within themselves to show compassion and kindness for each other, and to care about each other’s safety and well-being. ”
As The Daily Wire highlighted, the riot was sparked by an incident caught on video that prompted 911 calls:
The videos, including two posted by the Madison Police Department, show the arrest of a baseball bat-wielding Black Lives Matter protester, identified as Devonere Johnson, 28, whose threatening behavior and rhetoric prompted 911 calls, and who subsequently resisted arrest and managed to escape. In the videos, bystanders can be seen attempting to accuse police of detaining a black man without cause.
In one video, posted by the Madison PD on Tuesday, Johnson can be seen walking around a cafe with a baseball ball on his shoulder and yelling at the customers and employees through a bullhorn. In his wild, racially charged rant, Johnson refers to himself as “Yeshua Musa” and makes various radical accusations. He initially walks in with a bullhorn in a white man’s face accusing him of being a racist. Johnson, repeatedly using the N-word, then claims that Jesus was actually Horus and has been used to justify rape, murder, pedophilia, and other injustices.
Another video shows Johnson appearing to resist arrest while bystanders accuse the officers of supposedly arresting him for simply “using a megaphone.”
Among the victims of the Madison riot Tuesday night was Democratic State Sen. Tim Carpenter, who was assaulted after he took photos of protesters demanding the release of Johnson.
“I don’t know what happened … all I did was stop and take a picture … and the next thing I’m getting five-six punches, getting kicked in the head,” Carpenter told The Washington Post. “This has got to stop before someone gets killed. Sad thing I’m on their side for peaceful demonstrations — am a Gay Progressive Dem Senator served 36 years in the legislature.”
I took this pic- it got me assaulted & beat up. Punched/kicked in the head, neck, ribs. Maybe concussion, socked in left eye is little blurry, sore neck & ribs. 8-10 people attacked me. Innocent people are going to get killed. Capitol locked- stuck in office.Stop violence nowPlz! pic.twitter.com/Zw2hdfYG66
— Tim Carpenter (@TimCarpenterMKE) June 24, 2020
Below is the full text of Rhodes-Conway’s statement:
Thousands of people have come out in Madison and around Wisconsin to protest the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the many taken before them. I have heard from thousands of Madisonians in the past week, the vast majority of whom are supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and the peaceful protests that have occurred in Madison.
However, what happened last night in Madison was far from peaceful and exceeding dangerous. People attacked a State Senator who championed workers’ rights in 2011, tore down a statute of an abolitionist who died trying to end slavery during the Civil War, and attempted to set fire to a building with dozens of people inside. We need to separate First Amendment protests from those engaged in criminal conduct. People engaged in violence and criminal conduct against people or property on the streets of Madison will be held accountable.
Madison Police are involved in a wide-ranging investigation of activities that lead up to the arrest on the square yesterday and will have further information on this investigation when it is available. Officers are also investigating Sunday night hit and run involving a pick-up truck and a pedestrian.
People are asking for real, substantive changes, and the City is responding. The Council moved forward with the creation of an independent police auditor and an independent civilian police oversight committee, and we will continue to work to implement the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Task Force on Police Policy and Procedure. The Public Safety Review Committee and the City Attorney’s office are reviewing the Madison Police Department’s use of force policies, comparing them with the 8 can’t wait standards, the NAACP recommendations, and other best practices from around the country, and will make recommendations for any needed changes. Our Community and Economic Development divisions are working to develop programs and move funds to support wealth-building, housing assistance, small businesses and more in the Black community. Alders are exploring the mental health ambulance model and how to adapt it for Madison. My office is engaging with the question of how to reimagine public safety, and working to engage the community in all of these issues. At the State level, the Governor and Lt. Governor introduced a strong package of proposals around police reform and racial equity.
Over the past weeks, we have heard chants of “who keeps us safe? We keep us safe!” It’s time for that “us” and that “we” to include everyone in Madison. Because every single person who lives here deserves to be and feel safe in our City. And it is up to every single one of us to make that true. Everyone – police, protester, elected official, business owner, resident – everyone must find it within themselves to show compassion and kindness for each other, and to care about each other’s safety and well-being.
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