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Demonstrators shut down Madison block, call for release of Black activists

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Activists in Madison continued to demand the release of their imprisoned friends Friday, taking to the streets downtown with a message for police.

The protest was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which is demanding the immediate release of two men recently detained by police.

Marquon Clark -- who goes by Sire -- was taken into custody Tuesday night on a probation hold. Madison Police say he's also a person of interest in the firebombing of the City-County Building on June 23, though no charges have been filed against him related to that.

Devonere Johnson, 28, -- who goes by Yeshua Musa -- was one of the early protest organizers in Madison following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

He's accused of using "force, violence, and fear" to get free food, drinks and money from businesses, according to the U.S. Attorney's office who filed federal extortion charges against him.

Protest organizers accuse Madison police of locking up Black revolutionary activists on trumped-up charges or no charges at all, saying they are being targeted them for their activism.

"They don't even have any evidence it was Sire," said Liya, one of the organizers of Friday's protest. "Right now, he is on a P.O. hold."

Madison police deny the accusations that protest organizers have been targeted.

Friday's group of a few dozen protesters took over a Madison Police parking garage, causing the stretch of West Wilson between MLK Boulevard and Carroll Street to be shut down for more than three hours.

"That's where the MPD higher-ups park is down in that garage," organizer Sawyer Johnson told the crowd. "That's where the mayor parks when she's down here."

As they held the block, activists chanted for a bit, marching up and down once. They also took turns calling the District Attorney and Clark's parole officer, demanding his release.

At one point, the crowd was able to video call Clark in jail.

"Don't allow them to take your voice away," he told them. He also led them in chants of, "Whose streets are these? Our streets!"

Activists also spent their time drawing messages in chalk on the ground and on the MPD building.

They also took the opportunity to practice marching and teach each other how to protest effectively with a single unifying voice, keeping outside agitators out.

The group vowed to continue protesting in the days and weeks to come until "there is justice."

"That's what scares them more than anything," Sawyer Johnson said. "Hundreds of thousands of people in the streets."

The Party for Socialism and Liberation also organized a protest at a west Madison park Wednesday evening, which had similar goals.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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