Home Madison Arrest of activist leads to protests; at least four vehicles strike protesters

Arrest of activist leads to protests; at least four vehicles strike protesters


Hundreds of people are protesting in downtown Madison after the arrest of activist Yeshua Musa.

Video of the arrest posted to social media show as many as five police officers wrestling Musa, also known as Devonere Johnson, to the ground and carrying him to the back seat of a police cruiser, while he asks what he’s being arrested for. After officers get him into the car, he can be seen jumping out of the opposite car door before being tackled again and taken into custody.

Caution: Videos contain strong language and may be upsetting.

In one of the videos, witnesses can be heard asking why Musa is being arrested and saying he had only been speaking in a megaphone, exercising his first amendment rights. Officers can be heard telling witnesses that Musa had arrest warrants pending and that there are “other investigations.”

Court records indicate no active criminal cases involving Musa and no active arrest warrants. Madison Police Department spokesman Joel Despain did not respond to an email inquiring as to what “other investigations” might be ongoing.

A Madison Police Department incident report says Musa sustained abrasions on his arms and legs, and was taken to a hospital for medical clearance before being transported to Dane County Jail.

In cell phone video released by Madison police, Musa can be seen in the outdoor seating area outside Cooper’s Tavern, speaking through a megaphone around diners and carrying a baseball bat adorned with the words “Black Lives Matter” on his shoulder. He then followed a white man inside the restaurant, which was mostly empty, calling the man racist. He spent about a minute and a half inside the restaurant, acknowledging that he intended to disturb people with his protest and saying “I like your shirt” to a staff member on the way out.

Caution: Video contains strong language

City traffic camera video show Musa walking away from Cooper’s when he was contacted by police. The video, which has no sound, shows Musa backing away from officers when three grab him and take him to the ground with the help of two others.

Caution: Video contains strong language

Musa has been tentatively charged with disorderly conduct while armed, resisting arrest, and attempted escape, according to a Madison police incident report.

Facebook friends of Musa said he has been a frequent participant in protests following the police killing of George Floyd last month. On several occasions, they said, he and fellow protesters disrupted dining experiences in restaurant outdoor seating areas with a megaphone, with the intent, in part, to create discomfort and make the point that Black people often feel discomfort while doing ordinary things.

Cooper’s closed for the day after the arrest. A Cooper’s employee hung up on a reporter who called seeking comment.

Hundreds of people gathered downtown beginning in the afternoon to protest the arrest. On at least four occasions, white drivers struck or attempted to strike protesters who were crossing roads or diverting traffic.

Cell phone video posted to social media shows a group of protesters stopping a white pickup truck from crossing an intersection while claiming the driver had attempted to run them down. Witnesses later said the man was led away by police.

Caution: Video contains strong language

In another video, a woman in a Honda CRV is seen pushing through protesters who had blocked off an intersection with cones in order to facilitate the larger march. Protesters were guiding cars to turn around on Wilson Street and take a different route, said Elizabeth Tappy, who was on the scene.

“The car in the video was on Wilson which is a one way, so a lot of people were not wanting to turn around and go back that way, I’m guessing the person in this car also didn’t want to,” Tappy said in a Facebook message to Madison365.

Caution: Video contains strong language. Video courtesy Elizabeth Tappy.

In another incident, protesters had closed off the corner of John Nolen Drive and Williamson Street, and vehicles had been driving over the median to turn around, witness Cameron Bren said. A red Camaro, however, attempted to get through the crowd, which surrounded it. Eventually the car accelerated through the crowd as it turned around, striking at least two people. Police arrived to render aid but did not pursue the vehicle.

Caution: Video contains strong language. Video courtesy Cameron Bren.

In another incident, a Dodge Grand Caravan “almost ran right though the barricade” at South Blair and East Main, “but then went through lawns and tore off,” said witness Garrett Lee.

Police spokesman Despain did not respond to messages inquiring whether any of those four drivers were cited or arrested, or whether any protesters were cited.