Wisconsin Man Faces Federal Extortion Charge For Demanding Money, Food, and Booze From Businesses

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I previously wrote about my concern with the prosecution of rioters for arson under federal rather than state law.  Now a new case about of Wisconsin further shows the federalization of these crimes with seemingly no interstate elements.  Devonere Johnson, 28, has been charged with extortion after he went into Cooper’s Tavern near the state Capitol building with a megaphone and a bat to demand money and free food and booze in the name of Black Lives Matters. There is no question that his conduct was worthy of a criminal charge but the federal charges again raise concerns over federalism and state police powers.

JAMES-JOHNSON-SHANLEY-1280Also arrested were Gregg A. James Jr., 23, (far left) and William T. Shanley, 25 (far right).

The owner of the bar told the FBI that Johnson told him that the police would not do anything and that the offenders would destroy his business unless he complied.  The defendant is quoted in the complaint as allegedly saying “Just give us some free food and beer and we can end this now. You don’t want 600 people to come here and destroy your business and burn it down. The cops are on our side. You notice that when you call them, nothing happens to us.”

He returned repeatedly with other men, in one scene wielding a bat with “Black Lives Matter” written on it.

One of the incidents by Johnson (also known as Yeshua Musa) was caught on tape.

 

What is interesting is that their original charges appear to have been brought by the Madison Police Department, but later there was a handoff to the federal prosecutors.  Why?  One would think that local officials did not want the heat of a prosecution after the riots, but this is a pattern that we have seen in other cases.

The United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin Scott C. Blader announced that Johnson faces a charge of attempting to obtain money and property by consent induced by the threatened use of force, violence and fear, including the destruction of multiple businesses. There was also an alleged threat to hurt an employee unless they received free food and booze as well as cash.

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.

Police also released video showing the struggle to arrest Johnson, requiring five officers.

The arrest however then sparked anger and violent demonstrations in Madison.  A state senator was beaten and sent to the hospital when he tried to film the protests.

The grounds for the arrest of Johnson appear lawful and justified.

My question is the use of the federal charges.

Again, the concern from a civil liberties standpoint is that the federal government could circumvent state and local laws and mete out its own punishment for intrastate crimes.  Thus, if a state did not support a president’s harsh view of a given activity, federal prosecutors would effectively federalize the crime.  The dual jurisdictional problem has been raised repeatedly by defense lawyers, particularly in that civil rights prosecutions are virtually identical to state charges.  The double jeopardy claims raised in such challenges have generally failed.  This however is a straight up federalization of a local crime that occurred within a state.  These defendants often face longer sentences in the federal system.

In looking at the video above, what is the interstate element?  The federal government has been adopting the same attenuated arguments that were used in Wickard v. Filburn (1942).  In that case, Roscoe Filburn was growing wheat to feed his chickens, but the Supreme Court still defined the activity as interstate commerce because his crops reduced the amount of wheat on the open (and national) market.  Certainly, the food and booze of the restaurant comes from out of state but the alleged crime is clearly local in terms of its impact, its victims etc.

The ease with which these cases are being transferred between jurisdictions highlights the extent to which state police powers guaranteed under federalism have been undermined.

38 thoughts on “Wisconsin Man Faces Federal Extortion Charge For Demanding Money, Food, and Booze From Businesses”

  1. I just love Devonere Johnson! I hope he gets out on bail and heads into some more trendyish White folks eateries! Tavern on the Green type places and fancy-smancy high scale Italian places. I hope he gets in the face of every White liberal out there and screws up their meal! I hope he goes where Nancy Pelosi and Schumer hang out, and Kamala Harris and Hillary. I hope he heads to the Hamptons and Cape Cod and keeps them up all night!

    Let them reap some of what they have sown!

    But if he heads to Duke’s Diner, in Alabama, he will get tossed out on his ear!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  2. Abraham Lincoln the Prophet
    _______________________

    “Lincoln’s Fear of ‘Race War’”

    “A short time before his death on April 15, 1865, Lincoln met with General Benjamin F. Butler, who reported that the President spoke to him of “exporting” the Blacks.107

    “But what shall we do with the negroes after they are free?,” Lincoln said. “I can hardly believe that the South and North can live in peace, unless we can get rid of the negroes … I believe that it would be better to export them all to some fertile country with a good climate, which they could have to themselves.” Along with a request to Butler to look into the question of how best to use “our very large navy” to send “the blacks away,” the President laid bare his fears for the future:

    ‘If these black soldiers of ours go back to the South, I am afraid that they will be but little better off with their masters than they were before, and yet they will be free men. I fear a race war, and it will be at least a guerilla war because we have taught these men how to fight … There are plenty of men in the North who will furnish the negroes with arms if there is any oppression of them by their late masters.'”

    – Robert Morgan

  3. Trump calls out black NASCAR driver – who didn’t report the “noose” – for an apology but still hasn’t called out Putin for setting bounties on US troops.

    1. I guess you didn’t get the news and you are repeating prior mistakes.

      A lot of the information being processed occurred and peaked during the Obama administration.

      By the way in what fashion did Trump “calls out black NASCAR driver”? You seem to make statements not based on the truth or that are out of context.

      1. Is bi referring to Bubba “Jussie Smollett” Wallace, a demonstrable criminal, while exhibiting clinical Delusional (Paranoid) Disorder and inferring that Vladimir Putin is Mahatma Gandhi, he being the only sentient biological entity on the planet to do so.

        The only type of personality which would feel confident in expressing that sentiment would be one with an audience comprised entirely of ineducable, covetous and greedy idiots – oh yeah, democrats.

    2. Check me if I’m wrong but has Turley even wrote about Russian bounties? I know he stays busy deflecting anything bad about Trump or Barr.

  4. The confusion is likely to continue. It made sense for kidnapping to be federal (what state is the baby in now?), but nowadays you can find some “interstate” factor in many local crimes. BLM has no recognized state OR federal organization, so it would seem proper to handle this as a local crime. So why was it handed over? Beats me. But the DOJ has been very reluctant to step in when the Proud Boys or Patriot Prayer do their thing, and their organizations are designed to function on a national level. So far, local prosecution in the blue states has been intense. But the DOJ keeps its distance.

  5. “Why? One would think that local officials did not want the heat of a prosecution after the riots”

    You answered your own question, Jonathan. The State doesn’t want more riots. Which will occur anyway.

    BTW, had he tried to pull that sh*t in Georgia, he would have found out why you should never bring a baseball bat to a gunfight.

    The chick with the dog is an idiot.

  6. Local or Federal, the mutt(s) attempted to extort money and goods through threat of violence and probably personal harm. If one police force can’t or won’t arrest the scumbags, then the other should get a crack at it. The greatest disgrace would be that these criminals go free for some idiotic technicality. Al Capone got nailed for tax evasion.

  7. As a matter of law, feds justify their jurisdiction in that the restaurants being extorted in the name of BLM engage in interstate commerce: their avocados (or whatever) aren’t grown in Wisconsin. Admittedly, pretty thin. As a matter of politics, Madison WI is thoroughly in the grip of the social justice warriors — sheriff, mayor, district attorney. After “Yeshua Musa” (the black Jesus) was arrested in an epic take down requiring five police officers (during which the perp exclaimed “I can’t breathe”) the progressive mayor made this demand:

    “I have asked for Devonere Johnson, also known as Yeshua Musa’s, initial appearance before a judge to be expedited so he can be released on bail. I recognize that we need better options to de-escalate situations and offer restorative justice in our community.”

    Thank the good Lord for President Trump or these terrorists would walk free. But I get the constitutional concern. https://davidblaska.com/2020/06/27/mayor-satya-picks-rioters-over-policing/

  8. It seems reasonable to me that extortion and other acts aimed at depriving others of their Constituionally-protected civil rights (to be secure in their property, for example) without due process can be prosecuted in Federal courts as being racially discriminatory crimes. Congress intended for this to happen in its civil rights laws. If (as is commonly believed) these prosecutions can only protect the rights of “protected classes”, it’s time to contest any such limitation of the applicability of civil rights laws so that some people’s civil rights are protected and others’ are not. That Wisconsin’s prosecutors handed such cases over to the US Federal government for any reason suggests a reluctance to protect the civil rights of all Americans. It’s not “over-Federalization” of criminal prosecution for the Federal government to step in to protect all citizens’ rights.

  9. “The ease with which these cases are being transferred between jurisdictions highlights the extent to which state police powers guaranteed under federalism have been undermined.”

    Are they being undermined or have Democrat cities decided that they don’t want to prosecute their supporters.

  10. During the days of desegregation, “interstate commerce” was found in nearly every transaction. A house being built in a town in the middle of a state had wood in it from out of state, therefore, there was sufficient interstate commerce to support application of federal civil rights laws. I imagine using federal law against terroristic threats and attempted extortion is based on the same reasoning. I will say this. They are perfect representatives of Black Lives Matter.

  11. BLM is a national organization working simultaneously is various states. The Commerce Clause kicks in. So, the Federal charges are fine.

      1. lysias – Robert Barnes, who has defended several RICO causes, seems to think it would be impossible to make a RICO case for Antifa, however BLM might be another matter.

  12. CLEAR FAILURE by the local and state authorities and politicians to stand up against the crowd, Main Street Media, BLM, and etc. They won’t prosecute so let the FEDS take it over and throw the book at these low levels and thugs.

  13. When the transfer goes up to the federal authority, how is that initiated? Is that the fed deciding to intervene, or is it the state asking them to? If this is viewed in the context of the city or state government being corrupt, is there precedence for the federal intervening?

  14. At a time when state level prosecutors fail to inforce the law, through prosecution – the work product of local police, I can only ask PT just what the hell does he expect? Without Federal arrest and prosecution, this dirtbag goes free. But of course, is that of any REAL CONCERN for you?

    1. You need to consider the other extreme – the fed targeting someone that the locals know or strongly believe is innocent. Corruption can go both ways.

      1. The boxer Jack Johnson was a victim of such abuse – the Federal Government seached for a pretext under which to remove the threat he posed to white domination of boxing, eventually prosecuting and jailing Johnson under the Mann Act for “transporting a woman (his then-wife) across state lines for immoral purposes”. The conviction occurred before the Mann Act took effect, and there were other glaring legal deficiencies in the case. He wasn’t pardoned until the Trump administration.

          1. No one really cares when they abuse the law but still get the right guy, but then that means they can come for you as well. That’s the point of JT’s blog post.

      2. LV, I don’t really give a hoot about your counterintelligence tactic dumb thought. It is so far out of reasonable thought, are you sure that you aren’t from Venus?

  15. Isn’t there something in the constitution under States rights: “nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.

    Maybe as a result of the left politicians failing to protect us, defunding as well as eliminating police altogether requires federal enforcement?

  16. Failure of state and local elected officials to preserve the peace, enforce the law and maintain order could require federal enforcement? I submitting a question here.

  17. We have to resort to federal charges because blue state officials won’t enforce the law contra their pets.

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