Arrest outside Cooper’s Tavern refuels Madison’s protests against police brutality.

Video released by the MPD shows the arrest of Devonere Johnson, in which four officers pin him to the ground, and an officer later tackles him when he attempts to flee. Photo: Still from video released by the MPD.
Listen to the audio version of this story here, originally aired on 6/23/20.

Author: Sam Buisman

The arrest of a black man on the Capitol Square on Tuesday catalyzed another night of protests against police brutality.

According to the Madison Police Department, officers tried to place 28-year-old Devonere Johnson under arrest after he entered Cooper’s Tavern with a bullhorn and a bat and monologued the restaurant’s patrons. Cellphone video released by the MPD captured part of this incident on tape.

Both bystanders and the MPD captured Johnson’s arrest on tape, in which four officers pin him to the ground before each grabbing one of Johnson’s limbs and carrying him to a squad car.

Johnson then escaped from the back of the car and began to flee but was tackled by an officer before he reached the other side of the street.

According to an MPD incident report, police took Johnson to a local hospital for medical clearance before putting him in Dane County Jail on charges of disorderly conduct while armed, resisting arrest, and attempted escape.

Video of Johnson’s arrest spread virally on social media, reinvigorating Madison’s protestors who have been demanding the reform or defunding of Madison police. Hundreds of demonstrators blocked traffic on and marched down Gorham Street, near Cooper’s Tavern, Tuesday evening.

This marked the 25th straight day of protests against police in downtown Madison.