Black activist held to ground, arrested for disorderly conduct outside Cooper’s Tavern

Activist says "they're hurting me, I can't breathe" as police restrain him on ground

· Jun 24, 2020 Tweet

Ahmad Hamid/The Badger Herald

Content warning: this article contains details of a violent arrest.

A Black activist was arrested for disorderly conduct outside Cooper’s Tavern Tuesday afternoon after entering the outdoor seating area with a bullhorn and bat, according to MPD

Police charged Devonere Johnson, 28, with disorderly conduct while armed, resisting arrest and attempted escape. A video, shared by the police, shows Johnson entering Cooper’s Tavern and talking into the bullhorn while holding a bat over his shoulder. Johnson gets close to some of the restaurant patrons while talking, but doesn’t provoke anyone or cause any harm. 

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A second video, which does not have sound, shows police talking to Johnson before a struggle begins, and several officers hold Johnson on the ground on W Main St. After Johnson is put in the back of a police car, he escapes before police grab him again and put him back inside. 

In a video of the altercation on Facebook, Johnson can be heard calling the police racist. In the video, Johnson says, “What am I under arrest for?” as four cops struggle to restrain him. They grab him by the legs and drag him at one point as he continues to yell, saying “they’re trying to kill me.” The person recording the video says “put him down. He was using a megaphone, that’s it.”

The four cops pin Johnson to the ground, and at least one appears to kneel on his back at one point as Johnson says “they’re hurting me, I can’t breathe.”

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Johnson sustained abrasions to his arm and leg and was taken to the hospital for medical clearance before police transported him to the Dane County jail, according to MPD. Two officers also suffered minor injuries, MPD said. 

Johnson is a Black activist and has been present at protests on police brutality and the death of George Floyd in recent weeks according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Protestors held demonstrations in response to Johnson’s arrest Tuesday night. 


This article was published Jun 24, 2020 at 11:04 am and last updated Jun 24, 2020 at 2:20 pm


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