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On-campus group advocates for Devin Johnson

<p>Rag Banerjee organized an on-campus advocacy group to support Devin Johnson. <br/><br/></p>

Rag Banerjee organized an on-campus advocacy group to support Devin Johnson.

After the fallout of the Devin Johnson incident, some students are seeking change.

Justice for Devin is an on-campus advocacy group formed by Rag Banerjee, a sophomore public health major. Banerjee started the group after seeing a video of Johnson being arrested outside Brick Street Bar on Nov. 18.

“I've always paid attention to politics, and I've always cared about how it affects our world and the people around me,” Banerjee said.

The group has called for a special prosecutor to be appointed, the permanent barring of Officer Matthew Blauvelt from duty and for the charges against Johnson to be dropped. It’s also calling for the removal of a post that contains information that the organization claims is false from Brick Street Bar’s Instagram account.

“With police brutality happening like this so often, any amount of paying attention and scrutiny of the police's decisions will have some amount of impact in building an atmosphere of accountability,” Banerjee said, “and making it so they don't feel like they can get [away with] things.”

The group currently consists of approximately 30 members organized via GroupMe. To spread awareness of Johnson’s case, members canvas around campus and email potential supporters. The group has also worked with Johnson’s family to fundraise for Johnson to help subsidize their legal fees.

The group has teamed up with Ohio Families United for Political Action and Change (OFUPAC) and Ohio Families United Against Police Brutality. Both organizations aim to provide support to victims and families who have suffered discrimination and violence and reform the civil justice system.

Hunter Hensley, the executive fellow for OFUPAC, started working with Justice for Devin in March after Banerjee reached out through Instagram. Since then, he has worked with Banerjee editing scripts for email and phone banking campaigns.

“We just can't tolerate police officers resorting to excessive force and shifting the blame onto victims,” Hensley said.

He said some members of OFUPAC were affected by police violence similar to Johnson’s story and that the organization is currently working on creating a TikTok account to help spread awareness about the issue.

“We're just hoping to get [the] message out there that this is happening …” Hensley said, “... to stop … families [from] ever having to go through this kind of trauma again.”

Ryan Agee, Johnson’s attorney, said he isn’t directly involved with the Justice for Devin group for legal reasons. However, he said he is pleased to see a response like this from the Miami community.

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“It's great that people are keeping this alive because it’s a tragedy what happened,” Agee said. “That’s [the] job [of] students to be … reformers and thinkers about what our community could look like and how it can be better.”

Agee said advocacy groups like Justice for Devin are important in bringing issues to light.

“I think that an advocacy group that asks for, [and provides] things to help get Devin justice would certainly be helpful,” Agee said. “Everyone is … pursuing justice, so if people feel this is an injustice, then something should be done about it.”

Despite Justice for Devin’s efforts, Johnson was found guilty on April 11 of assault and resisting arrest. Agee said it’s hard to prove excessive force after someone is found guilty of resisting arrest. However, Johnson can still appeal the court’s decision until 30 days after sentencing.